Amid immigration reform fears, Tahoe-Truckee school board OKs ‘safe places’ policy
TRUCKEE, Calif. — On March 1, the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District Board unanimously adopted a resolution declaring TTUSD sites as “safe places for all students and their families,” officials said.
“The resolution reflects the district’s strong commitment to the success of all students irrespective of their immigration status, ethnicity, race, religion, primary language, sexual orientation, gender identity, or socio-economic status,” according to a March 7 news release from the district.
The resolution outlines various policies and legal foundations for how the district keeps Tahoe-Truckee students safe — “including those who may be affected by recent concerns and potential action regarding immigration status,” according to the district.
“This includes U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activities,” the news release states.
In December, Tom Torlakson, California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, issued a public statement that shared concerns about how, since the November 2016 election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, reports of bullying, harassment and intimidation of K-12 students across the country based on immigration status, religious or ethnic identification were increasing.
“In this time of uncertainty, anxiety, and fear I strongly encourage you to join me in declaring our public schools ‘safe havens’ for students and their parents and to remind families about existing laws that protect them and their students’ records from questions about immigration status,” Torlakson wrote.
After that statement, TTUSD Superintendent Robert Leri sent a letter to parents in response, reiterating the district’s goals to keep Tahoe-Truckee students safe.
“Recent national events have left some of our students feeling anxious and afraid,” Leri wrote in that letter, which is included in the March 1 TTUSD Board agenda. “Strong emotions and feelings of conflict, fear, and vulnerability may continue to exist among many in our community for some time. As a school district, we are united in supporting one another and in our commitment to always value each and every student we serve, and to uphold a culture of safety and respect.”
“Keeping all of our students safe from discrimination, harassment, and bullying is a top priority,” the letter continues. “Our district has strong policies and procedures against any discrimination and harassment regardless of a student’s race, ethnicity, faith, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Any incident of bullying or harassment is unacceptable.”
Meanwhile, in February, rampant social media rumors alleged that ICE officials were performing sting operations in and around public school locations in North Tahoe and Truckee, specifically at Kings Beach Elementary School.
Those rumors were false at the time, according to information and statements provided to the Sierra Sun by officials with TTUSD and ICE.
“There have been no ICE activities at or adjacent to our school grounds, or any verifiable reports of this happening,” Leri said in a Feb. 15 story.
Leri also added, in part, “… by law and district policy, ICE is not allowed to come on to school grounds or to request any student/parent data from a public school, absent a court order or warrant delivered directly to me. ICE has internal policies related to the ‘sensitive’ nature of school that limit their activities.”
The district’s “Safe Places for All Resolution” adopted March 1 not only reiterates those policies and legalities, but more clearly defines details and the procedures ICE must follow should the agency feel it needs to come to a school site.
“This very important resolution spells out the district policies and law already in place that protect our students and student records,” Leri said in the March 7 release. “The resolution also provides a unified guiding document for how we address the safety of all of our scholars.”