Delaware Public Media

Christina continues review of policy to protect undocumented students

Mar 22, 2017

The Christina School Board is taking a hard look at a policy designed to protect undocumented students.


They voted Tuesday to continue review of a policy making the district a “safe haven” for undocumented students.

 

But the policy includes more specific language than the resolution the board considered - and voted not to approve - last month.

 

Since February’s board meeting, board member John Young turned his resolution into a district-specific policy - and had it vetted by lawyers.

 

ACLU of Delaware staff attorney Ryan Tack-Hooper reviewed it, and says it’s legally sound.

 

“Our view is that teachers and staff at schools should not be having to decide the question of whether a particular warrant is the appropriate one or whether ICE has some justification to take some action without a warrant," Tack-Hooper said.

 

Tack-Hooper adds ICE is known to enter buildings with only an administrative warrant, not a judicial warrant – and demand access to safe spaces within the school.

 

That’s what the proposed policy is designed to protect undocumented students from.

 

However, Christina School Board President Elizabeth Paige says the policy is tailored to avoid putting teachers and staff in a difficult legal position if confronted by ICE officials.

 

“We’ve directed them to say: I’m not authorized to give you access, you need to go through the superintendent’s office," Paige said. "And if they say, too bad we’re coming in anyway, then all the staff needs to do is alert the superintendent’s office that that happened.”

 

John Young, the school board member who crafted the policy, added that the policy won't protect undocumented immigrants who've engaged in criminal activity.

 

“This does not protect undocumented immigrants who commit crimes, and they’re coming to pick them up for robbing a community store or something like that," Young said.

 

He did say that the policy - the only one of its kind in the First State, to his knowledge - affirms the district’s compliance with federal FIRPA laws that prevent the sharing of personal student information with outside parties.

 It will go before the board for a second reading next month before an approval vote.