LOS ANGELES — A coalition of community organizations and public schools urges the Los Angeles Unified School District to adopt a sanctuary resolution that protects students and families to create a safer and more inclusive learning environment. The resolution is up for a vote on Tuesday, May 9. Advocates say this will help students focus on learning.
LAUSD Board Member Monica García says that every day more than 600,000 students walk into LA schools eager to learn. "We need to ensure we are doing everything we can to support every student there, and that means standing up for them and their families when they feel they are under threat," she said.
The resolution calls upon Superintendent Michelle King to take an affirmative stance and make substantive investments to protect children, including to train staff to respond appropriately and not provide immigration officials unfettered access to students or their information. The policy also requires the district to create a rapid response network to assist students and family members detained by immigration agents.
"As the second largest school district in the country, we have a significant number of immigrant families and students, many of whom are undocumented," said LAUSD Board Member Dr. Ref Rodriguez. "We are committed to leveraging our partnerships with outside organizations so that families have the knowledge and resources to protect themselves."
"I have kids come up now, halfway through the day, just asking to call home because they want to be sure that a parent has come back from work. Children can't concentrate if they have fear. Fear of separation. Fear of a family being torn apart," said St. Claire Adriaan, grades 6-8 co-principal of Academia Avance [www.academiaavance.org], a charter public school in Highland Park.
The coalition, California Schools Are Sanctuaries (CASAS), was formed shortly after ICE agents took parent Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez into custody on February 28, when he was dropping off his daughter at Academia Avance. Avelica-Gonzalez, still in federal custody, has lived in the U.S. for more than 25 years.
CASAS has pledged to fight ICE tactics at public schools, including its agents lying in wait. The coalition is also focused on ensuring these policies are adopted and implemented at every district and in every school statewide.
"CASAS' message is simple: Do not turn your backs on vulnerable children, youth, and families. Tomorrow, it may be you who needs an ally," said Marcos Aguilar, executive director of Anahuacalmecac - IB World School [www.dignidad.org], a charter public school in El Sereno.
"Every student in California deserves an equal and equitable educational opportunity. This right applies to students of all races, ethnicities, religions and immigration status," said Sylvia Torres-Guillén, director of education equity at the ACLU of California.
California Schools Are Sanctuaries is a broad-based coalition comprised of community-based organizations, public school leaders from traditional and charter schools, and civil rights and immigration advocates fighting to ensure the safety and security of immigrant students.