Resolution seeks to make JCPS 'safe haven' for undocumented stud - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Resolution seeks to make JCPS 'safe haven' for undocumented students

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Jefferson County Board of Education will be asked to pass a resolution on Tuesday promising to protect undocumented students from being unlawfully threatened or questioned by federal immigration officials. 

The resolution, which is being proposed and was submitted by school board chairman Chris Brady would declare "every JCPS school to be a safe haven for students and families threatened by immigration enforcement or discrimination, to the fullest extent permitted by law."

Seven percent of the district's 101,000 students have limited English proficiency and 6 percent receive English as a Second Language (ESL) services. In addition, more than 135 languages are spoken by JCPS students and those requiring ESL services are the fastest growing student group in the district.

Brady told WDRB News that "it is our duty to step up and take a stand to protect and support our fundamental American values."

"Our role is to ensure students and families know we will do everything we can to keep them safe and provide a welcoming environment that is conducive to learning for everyone," Brady said. "By becoming a safe haven district, we are demonstrating our commitment to protecting every student's right to attend public schools regardless of their immigration status."

Allison Martin, a spokeswoman for the district, said JCPS has a policy in place pertaining to students who may or may not have documentation.

"Our policy states that no student shall be denied enrollment based on their immigration status," Martin said. "We will provide an education to any child, regardless of their immigration status or the immigration status of their parents."

She added that the district does not collect any immigration data, only information about language status in order to ensure proper placement into one of the district's English as a Second Language program or assignment to into the Newcomer Academy.

The resolution submitted by Brady states that "no Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers or other immigration law enforcement personnel shall be granted access to JCPS schools or facilities for the purpose of enforcing immigration laws unless the superintendent is adequately notified of the intention to enter, so he or she can take steps to provide for the emotional and physical safety of students and staff."

It also states that "those requesting to enter provide the superintendent with credentials, the reasons for the requested entry, and written authorization, provided by law, for such entry; and the Superintendent determines, upon consultation, as appropriate, with district legal counsel, that the requested access should be granted."

In addition, the resolution says:

  • JCPS employees, contractors, volunteers, and representatives shall refrain from inquiring about a student’s, parent’s, or guardian’s immigration status or require any student, parent, or guardian to produce documentation regarding immigration status.
  • JCPS shall continue to provide strictly confidential counseling to all students, including those who fear what might happen to them or family members due to immigration status, and will, without inquiring into the particulars of any student’s immigration status, refer each student having such fears to organizations to provide them with accurate information about their rights and responsibilities under immigration law.
  • JCPS employees, contractors, volunteers, and representatives shall not, unless compelled by a valid court order, or subsequent to receiving a signed release from a parent or guardian, disclose to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers or to any other person or entity any information about a student’s or family’s immigration status or any information that is protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

The resolution appears to be very similar to one passed by the Evanston, Ill. Township High School Board of Education last month, according to an article in the Evanston Now, an online newspaper.

Here is the full resolution that will be discussed and is expected to be voted on at Tuesday's meeting:

Reporter Antoinette Konz covers K-12 education for WDRB News. She can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

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