Ukiah school district declares itself a safe haven for immigrants

The Ukiah Unified School District has joined dozens of other school districts across the state that have declared themselves safe havens for immigrant and undocumented students.The resolution, adopted last week, clarifies and reinforces laws and school policies...

Ukiah school district declares itself a safe haven for immigrants

The Ukiah Unified School District has joined dozens of other school districts across the state that have declared themselves safe havens for immigrant and undocumented students.

The resolution, adopted last week, clarifies and reinforces laws and school policies already in place to protect students and their families. It was intended to quell the concerns of the community, parents and students in light of President Donald Trump’s promise to deport millions of undocumented immigrants.

“We have students who are fearful, and when you come to school fearful, it makes learning difficult,” Superintendent Debra Kubin said Friday. “We wanted to send a message to our students and families that we continue to support them and their learning and we will continue to focus on creating safe, welcoming and supportive learning environments.”

State and federal laws prohibit educational agencies from disclosing personally identifiable student information to law enforcement without the consent of a parent or guardian, a court order or subpoena, or absent a medical emergency.

The school district resolution states that school district personnel will decline federal immigration detainers or requests absent court orders. Any written request by immigration agents for information or access to a school site shall be immediately redirected to the superintendent who will take steps to provide for the emotional and physical safety of students and staff.

“The District shall refuse all voluntary information sharing with immigration agents across all aspects of the district to the fullest extent possible under the law,” according to the resolution.

The resolution was aimed at calming the concerns of the community, parents and students in light of President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to deport millions of undocumented immigrants.

The Ukiah school district resolution is one of at least three dozen adopted statewide by public K-12 districts, said state schools spokesman Robert Oakes. Those include districts in Santa Rosa, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Sacramento. Altogether, the declared safe haven schools have 1.5 million students. There are 1,025 school districts with 6.2 million students in the state, Oakes said.

State Superintendent of Public Education Tom Torlakson in late December urged school districts to adopt the designation. He said reports of bullying, harassment and intimidation connected with immigration, religious and ethnic identification had been on the rise in K-12 schools since the November election.

Colleges and local governments across the country also have been declaring themselves safe places for immigrants or promising the public they won’t cooperate with officials seeking to detain people purely for their immigration status.

You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or glenda.anderson@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @MendoReporter

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