Kern High School District approves policies that protect immigrant students and families

October 3, 2018 /

Compelled by state law passed last year, Kern High School District board members voted Monday to enact a slew of policies that bolster protections to immigrant students and their families.

The policies are in response to Assembly Bill 699, authored by Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell. The bill was signed into law in October 2017.

Kern High board member Jeff Flores said these policies aren’t just about following the law. They are also about supporting students and their families and helping them feel safe.

“We want our students to come to school and learn in an environment that is free of retaliations and fear from ICE,” said Flores. “We want to make sure our students and parents feel safe.”

The bill addresses educational equity, specifically relating to immigration and citizenship status.

The policies ensure that school sites are safe and welcoming for all students and their families, regardless of their citizenship or immigration status.

“Even without AB 699, these students are already protected,” Flores said. “This is just another level of state assurance.”

Some of the changes in the board policies include:

  • Staff is prohibited from handing over documents to immigration enforcement at district schools.
  • All students, regardless of immigration status, must have an equal opportunity in the district’s programs and activities.
  • The district shall notify parents and guardians of their rights, relating to free speech, religious beliefs and immigration enforcement.
  • Staff is to receive training regarding immigration issues.
  • The superintendent must report any requests from law enforcement for information or access to school site to enforce immigration laws.
  • Staff may collect, disclose or use students’ personal information only for educational reasons.
  • The superintendent must consult with parents and guardians regarding regulations concerning the use of personal information.
  • The Superintendent is prohibited from inquiring into the citizenship or immigration status of students and their families when establishing students’ residency for enrollment purposes.
  • The Board of Trustees is committed to providing a safe learning environment for all students, protecting them from discrimination, harassment and bullying. The district will design strategies to promote “harmonious relationships” among students.
  • Procedures for reporting a hate-motivated incident are to be implemented, and staff must be trained on hate-motivated behavior. Staff must notify administration of such behavior. Any complaint of this kind must be investigated.
  • The superintendent must establish regulations regarding the security of student records.

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Elizabeth Sanchez

Elizabeth Sanchez

Elizabeth Sanchez is the program associate for South Kern Sol. She can be reached at elizabeth@southkernsol.org.