School district releases new statement on immigration & student safety
On Tuesday, March 14, Highline Public Schools released a new statement on immigration and student safety (read their previous statement, released in December, here):
We recognize that actions taken by the White House, including a new executive order restricting immigration and orders to increase immigration enforcement, are unsettling to many of our families.
We want to reiterate our commitment to our students’ safety. We will do everything in our power to keep our students safe at school. Specifically:
- We will continue to educate every student in our district regardless of immigration status, which is our obligation under federal law.
- We will never ask or keep records of a student’s immigration status.
- We will never release a student’s confidential education records without a parent’s permission.
- We will continue to refer families to resources regarding their legal rights and to organizations that can assist them with immigration issues.
- We will keep emergency contact forms up to date with the latest information provided by families, including back-up contacts should the student’s parent/guardian be detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
Certain information about students is considered public information, and we are legally obligated to provide it to law enforcement unless instructed by a parent/guardian to keep it confidential. This information includes a student’s name, address, and birthdate. In the past, this “student directory information” has included place of birth. District leadership has decided to remove birthplace from our list of designated directory information, and it will be kept confidential. To learn more about directory information and how to restrict it, click here.
It is a long-standing practice for immigration officials to treat schools as “sensitive locations.” That means ICE agents have not come to schools to investigate or detain undocumented individuals. If that should change under the current administration, and if ICE agents come to a school, we have directed school staff to take the following actions:
- Direct the agent to the school office, as you would any law enforcement officer.
- Do not allow access to the school without the permission of the school administrator.
- If you believe an officer has violated a student’s rights, report it to the superintendent immediately, who will file a report with the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of the Department of Homeland Security.
We have directed principals to take the following actions:
- Call the superintendent’s office immediately and we will send assistance to the school.
- Attempt to contact the parents or guardians of any students involved.
- Require officers to present ID and a warrant, and get copies of both.
- Do not provide student education records unless presented with a court order or subpoena.
- Report any suspected violation of students’ rights to the superintendent’s office.
We will do everything we can under the law to protect students, and we will help them be informed about their rights by directing them to reliable resources. Staff must be very careful not to provide legal advice or outdated information that could compromise someone’s safety. This is a very real danger, as immigration policy is changing week to week. We have built a webpage listing organizations that exist to assist immigrants and refugees. Please refer to these resources.
Please be assured your student’s safety is our top priority.