At its monthly meeting this evening, the District 200 Board of Education approved a resolution declaring District 200 a Safe Zone for students and families with respect to immigration enforcement or discrimination. With the resolution’s passage, the district joins other local government bodies, including the Village of Oak Park, Oak Park Elementary District, Evanston Township Elementary District, Evanston Elementary District, Proviso Township High School District, and Chicago Public Schools, in letting parents know that they are welcome on our campus regardless of immigration status and that they are key to the success of our students.
Today more than 41.3 million foreign-born residents live in the United States and are contributing members of their communities. Since the election, school districts across the nation have seen an increase in bullying, intimidation, and harassment based on immigration status, religion, and ethnic identity. Parents have an increased level of anxiety regarding the safety of their young ones and a fear of deportation.
In response, boards of education have passed resolutions saying they’ll resist requests for student data from immigration officials and calling their schools safe havens or safe zones for their immigrant/refugee students, faculty, and staff. These school districts, now including District 200, join a growing number of cities, communities, and villages participating in the Building Welcoming Communities Campaign by passing ordinances that align with the three tenets of the campaign:
Make the commitment
Student information is protected by federal and state privacy laws. Additionally, public schools are prohibited from asking about the immigration or citizenship status of students in order to establish residency status. District 200 acknowledges and accepts its responsibility to ensure through its policies and procedures that the students, faculty and staff are protected from discrimination based on race, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, or citizenship status. The resolution reinforces our commitment as a public school to inform families and train staff about existing laws that protect student records from questions about immigration status.
OAK PARK AND RIVER FOREST HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT 200 BOARD OF EDUCATION RESOLUTION
DECLARING DISTRICT 200 A SAFE ZONE
WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court has declared that no public school district may deny any child access to a free public education on the basis of that child’s immigration status; and
WHEREAS, District 200 enthusiastically embraces its responsibility to welcome and educate all students regardless of their immigration status, celebrates their contribution to our diverse learning community, and will not be impeded or intimidated from exercising our responsibility; and
WHEREAS, numerous students whose education, safety, emotional well-being, and family relationships are at risk because of their immigration status are, and will in the future be, enrolled in District 200; and
WHEREAS, District 200 is committed to ensuring that Oak Park and River Forest High School is a safe and welcoming place for all its students and their families; and
WHEREAS, federal Immigration law enforcement activities, on or around District property, whether by surveillance, interview, demand for information, arrest, detention, or any other means, have the potential to harmfully disrupt the learning environment to which all students, regardless of immigration status, are entitled; and
WHEREAS, no federal or state law obligates a public school district to devote any resources, financial or otherwise, to the enforcement of federal immigration laws; and
WHEREAS, educational personnel are often the primary source of support, resources, and information to assist and support students and student learning, which includes their emotional health; and
WHEREAS, the Board of Education believes that it is in the best interests of the students, staff, families, and community of District 200 to assure all students and families that it will oppose, to the maximum extent permitted by law, disruptions to the educational environment that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) actions, or immigration enforcement actions by other law enforcement personnel, may create.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Board of Education of Oak Park River Forest High School District No. 200, Cook County, Illinois, as follows:
1. The Board of Education declares Oak Park and River Forest High School to be a safe zone for students and families threatened by immigration enforcement or discrimination, to the fullest extent permitted by law.
2. Unless specifically required by federal, state or local law, District 200 employees, contractors, volunteers and representatives will not use District 200 resources for the purpose of detecting or assisting in the apprehension of individuals whose only violation of law is or may be unlawful presence in the United States, or failing to produce documents authorizing lawful status in the United States.
3. District 200 employees, contractors, volunteers, and representatives shall refrain from inquiring about a student’s or parent’s immigration status.
4. District 200 employees, contractors, volunteers, and representatives shall refrain from requiring any student or parent to produce documentation regarding immigration status.
5. District 200 employees, contractors, volunteers, and representatives shall not, unless compelled by federal, state, or local law, or subsequent to receiving a signed release, disclose to ICE officers or to any other person or entity any information about a student’s or family’s immigration status.
6. District 200 employees, contractors, volunteers, and representatives shall not, unless compelled by federal, state, or local law, or subsequent to receiving a signed release, disclose to ICE officers or to any other person or entity any information about any District 200 student that is protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) or the Illinois School Student Records Act (ISSRA).
7. District 200 shall rely upon, to the maximum extent possible, the 2011 policy issued by ICE, which designates schools as “sensitive locations” and notes that law enforcement and ICE officers and agents should, in only the most extraordinary circumstances, enter a school campus for immigration enforcement activities such as arrests, interviews, searches, and surveillance. District 200 reiterates its intention to require a properly executed criminal warrant to justify any such activity on school property.
8. In the event that immigration enforcement seeks to enter the school for enforcement purposes, designated school administrators will:
(a) Request and record the identification of all agency or law enforcement officers making the request and the reasons for the requested entry;
(b) Notify the officers that they must have a criminal warrant authorizing them to enter the premises;
(c) Carefully assess any documents presented as authorization of entry by ICE or law enforcement in order to determine whether the warrant was issued by a judge and not an ICE supervisor;
(d) Inform the officers that they do not have authorization to execute an immigration arrest on school grounds if the authorizing document does not meet the standards for a court-issued warrant, which requires the signature of a judge; and
(e) If the document is a court-issued arrest warrant, request that the agent execute the arrest outside school grounds, request enough time to consider the emotional and physical safety of students and staff, and accompany the law enforcement agents while on the school grounds.
District 200 acknowledges that the scope of this clause is limited to on-campus situations, and it does not address off-campus activities.
9. District 200 shall continue to provide strictly confidential counseling to all students, including those who fear what might happen to them or family members due to their immigration status or lack thereof, 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.
10. To the extent possible, but subject to the requirements of state and federal law, District 200 shall adopt policies to assist students who are impacted by the deportation of a family member in continuing their education without disruption.
11. No District 200 student shall be denied equal access to any services, educational, or otherwise, including access to awards or institutional scholarships, on the basis of the student’s immigration status.
12. District 200 shall distribute this Resolution to District 200 students and parents and to all employees, contractors, volunteers, and representatives by effective means of communication and translate it into languages commonly translated by District 200.
13. District 200 shall promptly review its existing policies and procedures and revise them to the extent necessary to comply with this Resolution.
14. District 200 shall immediately provide appropriate training to personnel who may come in contact with ICE officers and agents to ensure the appropriate implementation of this Resolution.
15. If any section, paragraph, or provision of this Resolution shall be held to be invalid or unenforceable for any reason, the invalidity or unenforceability of such section, paragraph, or provision shall not affect any of the remaining provisions of this Resolution.
16. This Resolution shall be in full force and effect upon its adoption.