At the February 16, 2017 Board meeting, the DPS Board of Education unanimously adopted a resolution committing to provide “safe and welcoming spaces where all students are able to focus on their education, secure in the knowledge that the district will support their safety and emotional well-being regardless of immigration status, national origin, race or religion.”
In light of recent local and national events surrounding immigration and refugees, DPS sought to address the “fear and uncertainty” many of our students and families are experiencing, said Board Member Lisa Flores. She thanked and acknowledged her board colleagues for their leadership on this resolution, their attention to specific language and for how much time they spent listening to our community’s concerns. “There is great strength and solidarity in standing together as a community to protect the rights of our students, and I am proud to present this resolution tonight.”
The resolution states that any immigration law enforcement activities at DPS schools, on our transportation routes, on district property or during school activities significantly interfere with students’ constitutional rights, including the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, and the constitutional right to access a free public K-12 education.
Therefore, the district commits to “do everything in its lawful power to protect our students’ confidential information and ensure that our students’ learning environments are not disrupted by immigration enforcement actions.” The resolution calls out several specific actions, including addressing that DPS does not and will not collect information on students’ immigration status, and will not provide access to students without a valid search warrant.
“I want to thank the board for your leadership and forceful courage in this,” said Superintendent Tom Boasberg. “Being in schools talking with families and teachers, I hear a lot of fear and confusion. Our job is to replace that fear with confidence and to give students hope for their futures.”
Guadalupe “Lupe” Tarango, a North High School senior and Student Board of Education executive team member, said the student board “stands in unity” with the elected board of education.
“DPS seeks to offer an equal playing field for all students. For most of us, school is our second home. School is a place where we learn and grow,” she said. “As students, we will continue our fight for educational and social justice, and we will not be denied our right to a public education — an education free from unreasonable violations that disrupt our lives.”
Board Member Rachele Espiritu, who co-sponsored the resolution with Flores, said the action taken by the board has personal meaning.
“I am an immigrant myself. I came here as a toddler and experienced what it was like to feel different,” she said. “My husband is a political refugee from Vietnam. He and his family came here in the ’70s via boat and experienced the tragedy of losing life on the boat and not knowing what this country held for them. He is a success story and went on to serve in the military.
“I share that because I understand the silent suffering and anxiety that is happening for so many of our students and families, and so I hope that this resolution helps them feel safe in our schools and at our activities.”
Board Member Happy Haynes thanked district educators who brought their concerns forward and asked the district to take action. “In addition to reassuring our students and families, it was equally important for us to reassure our educators who are in the classrooms trying to wrap their arms around their kids. And we wanted to make sure that everyone in this district knows what they can do to take a strong stand to make our students feel safe. We will not allow immigration activities to happen in our schools because learning is what happens in our schools.”
“We are stronger with hope and love,” said Board President Anne Rowe, “and it will always trump hate and fear.”
Resources for Team DPS Staff Members, Students and Families