California is and must be a beacon of diversity and inclusion for all students.
Foremost among our rights is the fundamental right to education guaranteed by the California Constitution, and the right to equal educational opportunity enshrined in the California and United States constitutions. Long-standing federal and state civil rights statutes additionally affirm that every student in our state must be provided with an educational environment that is safe and welcoming regardless of the student’s race, ethnicity, color, national origin, religion, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, genetic information, or disability.
In response to student and parent organizing, school districts and colleges and universities can set certain policies to protect immigrant and Muslim students from deportation and the proposed Muslim registry. Many school districts, such as the Los Angeles Unified School District, have already begun to take additional measures to protect their students.
Please use these resources to push for sanctuary policies in your school district, and educate yourselves about the right of students to be free from bullying and harassment, and the rights of immigrant students in particular.
ACLU letter to California superintendents (December 2016)
ACLU of California Statement on Riverside Unified Sanctuary Policy (September 19, 2017)
Keep these goals in mind as you advocate for better protections for students in your district
School districts should:
Declare schools as sanctuary “safe zones” by adopting policies not to assist in enforcement of federal immigration law.
Adopt and implement written policies that prohibit any communications with federal agencies or officials and refuse all voluntary information-sharing with federal or immigration agents to the fullest extent possible under the law.
Adopt and implement written policies that safeguard the privacy of all student records and allow district staff to share student information with federal law enforcement agencies only in response to a court order enforcing a subpoena. Such policies should clearly describe the process through which school staff address informal requests or administrative subpoenas absent a court order.
Adopt and implement policies that prohibit staff, campus security, or campus police from collecting or divulging any information regarding immigration status or country of birth of any student or their family members, including, but not limited to, birth certificates, social security numbers, or passports.
As with any law enforcement agency, require federal or immigration agents seeking information or access to a school site to have a warrant signed by a federal or state judge.
Send a strong message to staff, students, and families affirming values of diversity and inclusion, and making clear that unlawful discrimination against students will not be tolerated.
Take measures to ensure that staff, students, and families understand that all students are guaranteed equal access to school, regardless of their or their families’ immigration status.
Establish a space where staff or partners with expertise in immigrant and undocumented populations can serve as resources for impacted students and their families.
Ensure that resources are distributed to students, educating them about their right to a safe and inclusive educational environment.
Create partnerships with community-based organizations and legal services organizations who provide resources for families regarding immigration issues.
Take prompt action to ensure accountability and justice through restorative justice programs and other approaches that focus on repairing the harm caused to the victim and the wider community.
Require focused anti-harassment trainings for staff and similar programming for students.
Provide training to teachers, administrators, and staff on protocols to follow when federal or immigration agents attempt to obtain information or enter the school site.
Commit to compile and publicly report data on every incident of bullying, harassment, or other discrimination to raise public awareness of this problem and the importance of devoting resources to address it.
Visit myschoolmyrights.com for general information about students' rights in California.