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Letter To The Editor: Gratitude For Our School Board And Superintendent

on November 28, 2017 - 10:28am
By JESS CULLINAN
Los Alamos

I write in deep gratitude for the service of the members of our Los Alamos School Board and our Superintendent Dr. Kurt Steinhaus.

I also write in dismay that these exemplary public servants find themselves under attack by a campaign of deliberate misinformation and weaponized ignorance by those who would rather stir up ideological fervor than allow them to do their jobs effectively.

There is little we can do to shield our children from exposure to poisonous attitudes that claim that one’s immigration status is a measure of one’s character, and the increasingly negative tone of the national conversation. This toxic atmosphere can only be alleviated by clear guidance and leadership by example from the highest levels of authority. As a parent, I am grateful to the school board and the superintendent for choosing to confront the issue head on.

At its Oct. 10 meeting, the school board unanimously passed a resolution to voice support for a vulnerable segment of our student population, spell out existing law, and direct the superintendent to ensure that district policies and practices are in accordance. There was overwhelmingly positive support for this action in the room that night, with half a dozen parents and teachers speaking in favor before the vote.

Also at that meeting, the board and superintendent began a process of writing clear, common-sense policy regarding how the schools will respond when confronted with immigration and customs officials, instructing staff and teachers as to what the existing law is and the procedures by which they will follow it. It ensures they will know how to respond if the situation arises, and gives us as parents, and as a community, solid answers to the “What if?” questions inevitably asked by our kids.

At the first reading of this policy, during the Oct. 26 work session of the board, almost a dozen individuals spoke in favor, telling stories of racially-fraught incidents in classrooms and the alleviation of anxiety that comes from addressing the issue with facts instead of uninformed opinions.

Those vocal few who have spoken or written against the already-passed school board resolution and the subsequent development of common-sense policy seek to sow chaos and sabotage the efforts of our school board and superintendent to protect our vulnerable students. They resort to stirring up fears of lost funding if our school district dares to make any statement on the issue of immigration, rhetoric which has no basis in fact. This ideological campaign demonstrates even more clearly how essential it is to have comprehensive policies and procedures in place, to combat the preponderance of misinformation surrounding immigration enforcement.

Just this week, in his ruling issuing a permanent injunction against the Executive Branch’s attempts to deny funding to “Sanctuary Cities” and calling the Executive Order in question “unconstitutional on its face,” District Judge William H. Orrick wrote, “Federal funding that bears no meaningful relationship to immigration enforcement cannot be threatened merely because a jurisdiction chooses an immigration enforcement strategy of which the President disapproves.”

Please join me in continuing to express deep gratitude to our school board, superintendent, and the staff who support them, as they work tirelessly to provide the best possible learning environment for every student in our community.

For those who are not familiar with the specifics of federal immigration policy as it pertains to public schools, here are the basic facts:

  • Public schools are required, by law, to provide every student with a public education, with no consideration of immigration status;
  • Public schools are prohibited, by law, from asking for or collecting information about the immigration status of students or their families; and
  • Public schools are designated, by ICE regulation, as “sensitive locations,” where enforcement activities are not permitted outside of exigent circumstances.

For more information, look up the ruling of the Supreme Court in Plyler v. Doe, 1982.


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