Discussion; How Far Should Santuary Go in SPS?

I'm asking this question just for discussion because there are several issues in this story that may come up at some point for SPS students.

Kent School District is not allowing any international trips for student groups over the worry that any undocumented students on such a trip might be held up at the border upon return.  I heard a report on this on KUOW yesterday and the Kent superintendent stated that they had heard - anecdotally from some undocumented students - that the students did have this fear.

On one side, it's a major disappointment for many students; the flip side is that it's a potentially life-changing issue for a few students. 

From the Seattle Times:
The decision, announced at what was described as an emotional board meeting Wednesday night, resulted in the immediate cancellation of two Kentlake High School trips scheduled for this school year: an education exchange to Osaka, Japan, and a band trip to Victoria, B.C., that has been a school tradition for 18 years.

“You cannot go on a field trip with 60 kids and come back with 59,” he said
(Chris Loftis, the district’s executive director of communications).

But when School Board member Russ Hanscom called the local U.S. Customs and Border Protection office earlier this year, he was told there was a very high chance a student would be detained at the border if he or she lacked adequate documentation, Loftis, the district official, said. 
A Seattle Public Schools spokesman said he didn’t know of any cancellations in that district. Bellevue School District hasn’t canceled any trips either, its spokeswoman said.
School Board President Karen DeBruler said everyone on the board understood what was at stake: months of planning and fundraising, and the excitement that goes along with what is often a memorable and inspiring experience for students.

“It’s not fair for them not to go,” she said in an interview Friday. “But things are changing on a very unprecedented basis.” Allowing some students to go would mean that the students who couldn’t go would be “exposed as being undocumented,” she said.
Issues on each side:
Loftis said the board based its decision, in part, on a 1982 Supreme Court case, Plyer v. Doe, which states that “denying undocumented school-age children a free and public education is unconstitutional.” Because of that, the Kent School District, with students who hail from more than 100 countries and who speak more than 135 languages, does not ask for or track students’ immigration status.

A number of students oppose the board’s decision, saying the trips aren’t required, and there are always some students who can’t go, sometimes because they can’t afford the fees.

Junior Jordyn Mastroff said that students and families have already done much of the work required to organize the band trip, which is the only opportunity each year for the band to play in front of large audiences.
Mastroff questioned whether it was fair to have left students with financial issues behind in the past, yet adopt an all-or-nothing policy now.
“I do not want to know if someone is undocumented or not,” she said. “But their feelings should not influence the decision of letting 250 other students go that have been going to this for years.”

I will admit to mixed feelings.  Right upfront, I'll state a hard truth that every single person on this planet - no matter how much they wish it not so - Life isn't fair.  Never has been, never will be.  But school districts have to consider equity issues.  That they can do.

The issue of having allowed students and families to work for months on a trip, only to say at the last minute that they can't go was very poor timing by the Kent School Board.

Two, was there equity in leaving kids behind in previous years when they couldn't afford it?  I'm surprised the Kent School Board didn't addressed that (but maybe they didn't know it was happening).  Is that happening in Seattle Schools?  And, is that equitable?

Three, the KUOW discussion brought up a couple of thoughts.  You wouldn't say that a student couldn't go on a school trip on a basis like disability or race because those beyond anyone's control.

Being an undocumented student is certainly beyond the control of the student but it was a parent's choice.  I could see some students feeling punished for that choice - no matter how hard a choice - that someone else made. 



Anonymous said…
It's impossible for an undocumented person to board an airplane for an international flight.

It may not be a flight and, if they have a visa, they could get thru at the US/Canadian border into Canada but not back into the U.S.

I'm sure Kent SD had considered all this.
Anonymous said…
By stopping international trips, schools are punishing citizens for the illegal acts of those who came to this country without permission. Where's the justice in that?

This is a great example of why this country elected Trump.

Fed up
Anonymous said…
There is no visa for an undocumented person living in the USA. If you have a passport from another country your not undocumented. If you have an expired visa you are not getting on a flight without first visiting customs and imaginations to explain your overstay.

You could ride a chartered bus into Canada and lie on the entrance forms, but that's a crime that Canada takes very seriously.

Okay PO, you're right and Kent is wrong.
Lynn said…
I too was surprised that the parent interviewed on KUOW expressed no concern about the students who couldn't go on field trips in the past because they couldn't pay for them. Field trips for school-related activities should be available to all students through fundraising.

I don't think the Kent school board made the right choice here. These are experiences that many of us could provide for our children independently but for others, this is their only opportunity. How many of those kids will ever get to see Japan?
Anonymous said…
My kids have gone to Canada 5 times for athletic competitions. The school rents a charter bus and all the students have to fill out proper paperwork which is collected and reviewed at the border when entering Canada. Right or wrong several times the Hispanic students were subjected to additional questioning.

Canadian border patrol are the ones enforcing their laws

Kent is taking the steps to avoid being sued for discrimination by the ACLU or undocumented students.

I wasn't commenting on Kent's decision, I was pointing out that your might not have your facts correct.

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
PO, I took the story from KUOW and the Times. I would assume if what you are saying is correct, then there would be no story. Kent could not be sued for discrimination for the same reason they couldn't if a low-income student couldn't go. Kent wasn't stopping anyone from going on the trip.

Anonymous said…
What? The story is still relevant and you can't be sued for economic discrimination (yet). Kent school district is worried about having to ask students their status before allowing them to participate in the trips. It's similar to lawsuits in several states over police asking Hispanics what their status is during traffic stops.

If a student somehow slips through and makes it into another country only to be detained while there or when reentering the US it would be front page news across the nation...then would come the ACLU and Kent SD would be a target. It's a no win situation.

There's no discrimination if Kent doesn't ask about anyone's legal status. And they wouldn't.

The students all get the travel form and if they can't pay (see poor students) or can't provide the necessary documentation (undocumented students), then the student wouldn't apply to go on the trip.

My real point in the thread was to ask what people thought about these issues, not argue if they are possible.
Outsider said…
This whole thing sounds strange.

Even pre-Trump, to get past US border control from a foreign country, you would need either a US passport, green card, or valid visa. An illegal immigrant couldn't have flown to Japan and back even under Obama. That's silly.

Trump has supposedly gotten more aggressive about finding undocumented people inside the country and deporting them. But nothing has changed about undocumented people entering at official border crossings. When could they ever do that?
Anonymous said…
I can't find any immigration laws have been changed under Trump. Trump hasn't gotten more aggressive, he appears to be simply requiring the thousands of people working in border patrol to do the job they are being paid to do. The Trump travel ban was derived from the Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 signed by Obama and that was done well before Trump was elected president. BTW, persons with DUI convictions are barred from entering into Canada unless you file for rehabilitation status yet 1000s of Americans knowingly break this law each year. So it's not only Mexican who are illegally entering other countries.

Patrick said…
That article doesn't make everything clear. In spite of what the student they interviewed said, we've had to present documentation every time we've entered Canada since 2001. Canada doesn't want to be stuck with people who can't return to the U.S. Maybe they do something different for school trips.

And I'm pretty sure people refused entry into Canada were stopped again re-entering the U.S. and would be liable to being detained or deported if they weren't in the U.S. legally. That's not new either.

Anonymous said…
The issue is that people are more aware of equity issues now than they were in the past. Have undocumented kids always been unable to go? Yes. Maybe people knew why, or maybe the kids/families made up excuses. Same with poor kids--maybe some had access to scholarships to attend, but others probably came up with excuses as to why they couldn't go, to save face. Most parents, teachers, and administrators seem to have been fine with that, probably convincing themselves it wasn't really happening or rationalizing it as such a good educational experience that even if a small number of kids had to miss it, the benefits to the others outweighed that.

But really? Does the band need to go to Canada in order to have a good musical experience? Aren't there competitions and exciting newbplaces to visit within our country? I doubt that students from most other US states feel they need to take a field trip to Canada, so I'm sure there are options. Or if it's so important that kids have an opportunity to visit Canada, organize an optional, extracurricular field trip, so that a few students aren't excluded from their class performances--and so that kids NOT in band have the option of that educational experience, too.

Public school field trips should be accessible to all. There's no entitlement to international travel. I bet there are a lot of schools that don't even have any/many domestic field trips--or decent music programs. It's sad to suddenly lose the Canada trip they'd been planning, but hopefully the students will see the bigger picture. The parents, too, since they set the tone... if parents are whining that it's not fair, that's a bad sign.

O Canada

Jet City mom said…
When my daughter was in high school , there were domestic trips that were so popular that they had a lottery system to select who would attend.
She was not chosen, which was very disappointing, especially as she had worked to be able to afford the trip, and it seemed a big part of the class.
Why would they have it set up like that?
If it is considered valuable, everyone should have an opportunity.
Anonymous said…
I no longer feel an obligation to lie for and support an illegal population. It is blatantly inequitable to expect students to suffer due to what has become a generational tradition: flaunting immigration law, knowing the consequences, bringing your children anyway, then realizing the consequences from laws on the books will now be enforced.

When Kent Schools changed their race and equity policy they made a political decision. Is this their statement in favor of the costly practice of sanctuary or are they afraid of being sued? A little of both? We can argue all day about the amount of revenue generated by illegal workers vs the much larger outlay of tax dollars to pay for the increasing costs of education, healthcare and incarceration generated by illegal populations. What matters is how we define fair. It's unfair to deny a trip to students who can travel only because some of their classmates are taking a risk by attempting to cross an international border. It's not the fault of the students. That's on their parents and past presidents who refused to enforce immigration law.

I grew up on the southern border. Our community routinely welcomed immigrants from Mexico. Whether they were sponsored by churches or relatives, they came to make a life for themselves and especially their children. No one from this generation settled for anything less than citizenship. None were rich. All were working class. They did everything necessary to ensure that their children had a secure future.

The KUOW piece said the group was going to a competition in the U.S. instead.
Anonymous said…
I agree with O Canada. I'm glad that we are looking at these issues - recognizing our own blind spots - if students think a Japan trip is valuable, then do it through Youth For Understanding (I did in 1986) or any other forum. This is a public school. They can go to wonderful band competitions throughout our state, Oregon, many other places. They don't need to make more expensive and more exclusive - thankfully, we're aware now of how this can exclude all kinds of people. Even just ones whose parents never got the paperwork for the travel together (hey, that can be kind of hard for merely divorced parents to accomplish).

Do we have to set up all these ways to exclude people? No.

I applaud Kent's decision - it is far better to cancel the trip than have someone sobbing at the border.

And let me say, you can be a lawful resident of this country - even a citizen - and be detained based upon your religion or ethnic background while trying to reenter. If you don't know that, you haven't been reading much news.

-- Math Counts
Anonymous said…
I can understand why Kent cancelled cross-border travel. It is just too stressful... Major issues like not being able to get back to the U.S. or having your computer or phone searched, any of those things would lead to a ton of problems. What chaperone or teacher would want to take on these added responsibilities?

Anonymous said…

Your law-and-order approach sounds good on paper. The reality is that, for years,
many "legals" have partaken in the often low-wage services of the "illegals"-- whether
it be a restaurant, hotel, home health aide, house cleaner and, prolifically, the cheaper costs of the food we eat.

The perimeters of the strike zone enforcement are being changed in the eighth inning. In the meantime, children have been born and are currently in our schools.

It's not a black or white issue. Changes need to be made, but not without admitting that all of us have benefitted from the prior approach and usually were/are not concerned about enforcement in that real time.

Anyone who has not partaken in the low wages of an undocumented worker can take the trips, which would be no one.

That's how it would work in a black and white world.


And again, I would hope that Kent would also examine the issue of the exclusion of low-income students. That, too, is an equity issue.

Anonymous said…
I thought the parent interviewed on KUOW said there had been fundraisers for low-income students? As I listened to the story, and without giving it much deep thought, I felt the district should have let them go this year as they did not get enough notice. Then change the policy for next year and beyond: only domestic trips. Minimizes the likelihood of problems, exclusion, and keeps teachers one more step away from having info they may be forced to disclose when Jeff Sessions comes knocking. As a teacher, I want to teach, not work for ICE.

Anonymous said…
Schools should stay out of practicing politics. They should provide a balanced unbiased non subjective leaning experience for all, but there are a few exceptions.

A kid can't make shots when the hoop is at 10 feet should they lower the hoop for everyone to 3 feet or else ban hoops? A kid is allergic to peanuts, should a school ban peanuts in all school lunches? What about other allergins? A 17 year old band member has a DUI conviction and can't travel to Canada, should the school cancel all trips to Canada?

Actions have consequences and sometimes those consequences extend to family and friends. I think someone would gladly give up a trip in order to illegally remain in the greatest country on earth. If you keep treading on others you are going to create a backlash.

Anonymous said…
"As a teacher, I want to teach, not work for ICE." A little grand standing with your morning coffee?

Anonymous said…
@ Jeez, sounds like survival of the fittest. Or maybe, in your book, the most worthy? Why stop there? A kid needs a wheelchair, should the school be forced to spend money on a ramp when there are perfectly good stairs? A kid is slow in math, should they have to hire an extra teacher to work with those who can't keep up?

Yes, I think people do give up trips in order to remain in this country (I assume you meant the US, although I'm sure not everyone in the world agrees this is the greatest on earth), but I doubt they all do so "gladly." And c'mon, they are treading on others???? Children whose parents brought them here as babies, and who want to go on a high school trip with their class, are "treading on others" if they, what, are disappointed? It's not even them making the policies to ban international trip--it's well-meaning administrators who understand that all the same educational goals can be achieved via a more inclusive trip instead. Backlash because schools can go to NY but not Canada? Backlash because a school might ban peanuts? Maybe backlash because everyone isn't like me and I can't always get my way and that's not fair?

I'm sure in most cases we are clever enough to come up with compromises and rules that work ok for all.

O Canada
Lynn said…
Can't take a school trip to NY by air either then. Students who are 18 or older are required to provide ID to board a plane.
Anonymous said…
I never implied not including disabled students. If a non disabled athlete can't make a hoop with a 10 foot setup should the hoop be lowered down to a height that works for them? That's is what I meant.

Your point is well taken and makes you wonder how long sports can remain "survival of the fittest" in the current PC public school environment.

Dan deLion said…
So... food allergies. Food allergies only resulted in 11 deaths nationwide the last year numbers are available for. And peanuts are absolutely not the only thing children are allergic to. Kids also die of allergies to milk, eggs, tree nuts, wheat, soy and fish. So, why don't we ban milk in schools? Why don't we ban wheat and soy in schools? To protect children with allergies. Probably the pro-dairy, pro-wheat, pro-soy lobbying groups have more money than the pro-pharmaceutical companies that sell EpiPens for treating anaphylactic shock.

In other words, this debate has nothing to do with children. It's yet another instance of kids being used as political pawns for someone else's interests.

Do kids need to participate in school related international travel to get a good education? No. Does studying something long and hard enough that it makes sense to do an international trip to perform or compete or use your hard-earned academic skills benefit kids? You betcha. So if some kids want to perform opera in Italy or use their Spanish in a mock trial in Argentina or compete in the World Junior Chess Championship in India... more power to them.

We can't keep every possible thing that every child is allergic to out of schools. And more than that, we demonstrably have zero interest in keeping most of the stuff kids are seriously allergic to out of schools. And we can't keep all children from going anywhere (to compete, or perform, or learn (travel is educational)).

Every child is different. They should all have the opportunity to get a great education. But we absolutely can't treat all children exactly the same. Nor would it benefit them. They all need different things. They unique human beings.

I can't believe we even waste our time talking about this junk when the school library holdings suck as bad as some of them do and our legislators are busy complaining about dandelions and primping for their hometown photoshoots instead of freaking funding basic education for all students.
Anonymous said…
"Schools should stay out of practicing politics." NO. Practically every action or omission of action can be expected to have a political effect. I agree that schools should not be making gratuitous political statements, but it is absolutely impossible to operate a school without encountering political issues.

I do not understand why any public school should provide international field trips. I have always thought that non-school organizations should provide those types of valuable cultural experiences, which are not part of the responsibility of the school, any more than it would be to operate a Little League baseball league or a YMCA.

NE Parent said…
"The perimeters of the strike zone enforcement are being changed in the eighth inning. In the meantime, children have been born and are currently in our schools."

Actually, if the children were born in the U.S., then they are U.S. citizens and eligible for a U.S. passport. This is an issue with children born outside the U.S. that are not authorized to be in the U.S.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 in Plyler v. Doe in 1982 that unauthorized students have a right to attend school in the U.S. So I would assume that if an international trip were a required or integral part of a public K-12 curriculum, the district could potentially be sued. But that ruling was 35 years ago and students have been going on international trips ever since without issue. These trips are always optional. And with the exception of Canada, a passport has long been required.

Thus the question of why now? For 35 years Kent doesn't bother to change its policy. But 5 months after Trump becomes president, it's now suddenly necessary to change the policy mid-year after money has been raised and trips planned?

Seems pretty hard to justify.

The WA state constitution - beyond making public education the "paramount duty" to "amply supply" also says ALL children within the borders of the state are to be educated. Not citizens, but all children.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
NE Parent said…

I agree, "all children" within the state are to be educated. That's not just Washington State says, that's what the U.S. Supreme Court said 35 years ago.

The question is, why if that's been the law of the land for 35 years, does Kent need to suddenly ban international trips midway through the school year after plans have been made and money raised?

If these trips were part of a core public school curriculum, clearly there would be an issue, but they are not. If these trips were illegal, you would think someone would have sued sometime during the last 35 years since the Supreme Court ruled, but they have not.

This was just as much an issue when Obama was president, and Clinton was President, as it is now that Trump is president. Trump may have highlighted the issue of unauthorized immigration, but he has done nothing to change the fact that a student without a U.S. passport can't get on an airplane for a school trip to Japan and then expect to return to the U.S. Nothing has changed.

The fact that Kent would change this midyear seems hard to justify.

Anonymous said…
We should have plenty as to afford to help all children. I think issues arise when there needs to be accommodations outside of our customary offerings. Right or wrong it can viewed as disruptive. It's a slippery slope.

Anonymous said…
Most of these type of actions are to stir up support against TRUMP in 2020. Many current high schools students will be voting in 2020 and the opposition's hope is the students will think back and remember when TRUMP ruined their trip.

You can see many of these programing tactics taking place across the US. Somewhere in the Kent's SD decision is a operative working against TRUMP and they don't care who gets hurt along the way. This appears to have BAMN's finger prints all over it.

PO, that is so far-fetched, it's just not believable.
Anonymous said…
far-fetched...how so?

Anonymous said…
PO, Paranoid much?


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