Monday, February 27, 2017

Something to Listen To, Something to Consider about ICE and Schools

Tonight former Washington State Teacher of the Year, Nate Bowling, will be speaking about the issue of agents of ICE coming to schools looking for undocumented students.


Tacoma Teacher Town Hall
IBEW Hall
3049 S 36th Street
Tacoma, WA 98409

From Bootstrapper Studios' Facebook page:
Join us right here tonight at 6pm to watch the live stream and hear from Nate (Washington’s Teacher of the Year in 2016), The ACLU, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and Washington Dream Coalition.
As I previously reported, SPS  and the Board have made policy statements on this issue but I'm not sure what teachers and principals told to do if ICE agents persist.  It might be a matter of personal conscience at that point.  From SPS (bold mine):
School Board Resolution Affirms Students

In a 7-0 vote, The Seattle School Board unanimously passed a resolution affirming their commitment to providing safe, welcoming, and inclusive schools for all students without regard to race, religion, national origin, or immigration status, Wednesday.

The move is in response to heightened anxiety from many students and families in the district born out of the current national political climate. Those students and families tell the district they feel particularly anxious given the current national rhetoric about immigration.

Superintendent Larry Nyland recently updated Superintendent Procedure No. 4310SP, Relations with Law Enforcement, Child Protective Agencies, and the County Health Department, to reaffirm the district’s practice of not asking about the immigration status of its students or families. 
The procedure says any requests for information from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) must be routed through the district’s Office of General Counsel for proper review and vetting. Federal agents will only be allowed access to records or schools as specifically required by law and upon the written consent of the General Counsel or Superintendent.
In the last couple of months, district staff have also held informational sessions and clinics to provide support for students and families from immigrant communities.
At the Soup for Teacher Facebook page, UW Bothell professor and noted public education advocate, Wayne Au, had this to say:
Recently I've had multiple conversations with teachers about concrete actions that K-12 schools and communities need to be thinking about for if/when ICE comes after our children (and I think it is more a question of "when" not "if," at this point). This is not meant to be total or exhaustive, and additions are welcome. These are also not in any particular order.

1. Make sure there is a policy in place that all office staff must immediately report that ICE has arrived - report to the administration, the parents, and perhaps the students. Maybe even as a public announcement to warn EVERYBODY on campus.

2. Teachers, we need to get your/our colleagues to make commitments regarding their level of involvement should ICE show up. Some of us/them are willing to put their bodies on the line and physically protect our kids. Some are not. But maybe a colleague who won't put their body down is willing/able to cover your class for you when ICE comes. That level of support is important too.


3. Neighborhood parents, we should be networking with other parents to figure out and make plans of who among you/us would immediately come down to school and form a blockade, if necessary, to protect our kids. We also need to figure out whom among us is at least willing to come down and provide witness and report what is happening (which is also an important role). 


4. Parents/Teachers/Administrators, we could set up a system of "temporary custody" such that, if ICE shows up, a child could be passed along (or snuck out) to some trusted parents or adults in order to hide them from ICE, or in the case that the child's parents can't come to school because they themselves need to stay away from ICE.


5. Teachers/Administrators, we should also be doing curriculum around immigration and immigrants' rights, creating spaces for kids to process their fears and build relationships with each other, as well as critically analyzing media, government, and policy on this issue.


6. Teachers/Parents/Administrator, we should be creating spaces for community conversation around this, which also means sharing resources with each other (e.g., where to find legal support). So getting local and regional immigrants' rights organizations to present at our schools should be a priority right now.


7. District and school administrators, even if you are not willing to be radical enough to block ICE, you can at least push for policy that creates a "process" for ICE to follow so that it buys kids, parents, and communities more time and distance to get away. For instance, while the Seattle Schools Policy that has come from our superintendent is not super radical, it at least says, "send them downtown to our legal office" - which buys time (I say this knowing the ICE may not care about district policy...).


8. Many have been talking about doing a school lock-down if ICE shows up. This means that no one is allowed in or out of the building. This could be effective and is worth exploring. One downside that was raised was that it would also allow ICE to muster more forces and jump through whatever hoops they need to jump through, all while keeping their targets in one place.


Again, these are just some beginning thoughts on how we might be better prepared if/when ICE comes to our schools. Please feel free to share and add.
On this point:
 Parents/Teachers/Administrators, we could set up a system of "temporary custody" such that, if ICE shows up, a child could be passed along (or snuck out) to some trusted parents or adults in order to hide them from ICE, or in the case that the child's parents can't come to school because they themselves need to stay away from ICE
I think if teachers or the principal want to hide students in other areas of the building, they could do that. 

You can certainly practice civil disobedience and refuse to move to allow ICE agents in, including a parent blockade. 
But what I said at the Facebook page is that taking children from the school might need to be set-up in advance.  I don't think that legally the district could allow any parent to take a child that isn't theirs from school grounds without permission of the child's parents. 

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