The Safe Haven movement gained urgency on November 9, 2016, right after Donald Trump was elected president. Soon after, California’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction led his peers around the nation by issuing statements reassuring families that school districts and individual schools would continue to be places where children would be universally welcomed, nurtured, and given a safe environment in which to learn. They would continue to receive a free appropriate public education taking into account their full cognitve, social, physical, and emotional needs.
In California, SSPI Tom Torlakson issued two such statements, one on December 21, 2016 and again on January 30, 2017. Sacramento City Unified School District soon passed a school board resolution declaring the district a “safe haven.”
Pasadena Unified recently passed a similar school board resolution. (Both are featured in our model school resolutions and you can use them as a template. So far examples are from California and Kentucky but we’ll be adding more from other states in a short while.)
This website will collect resources from states around the country where public education advocates are pressing school districts to take the following steps:
- School board passage of a safe haven resolution: see resources for your state here
- Detailed implementation of safe haven policies
- Non-cooperation with ICE, DHS, or any other federal agencies working to restrict immigration or travel, or threaten deportation
- Stepped-up protection of privacy rights and data of families regardless of immigration status, religious background, race, gender, sexuality, family socioeconomic status, free and reduced lunch participation, by rejecting inquiries relating to same
How to Use These Resources
- Step 1: Launch your own campaign to have your school district declare itself a “safe haven.”
- Step 2: Adapt an existing resolution as a model for your own district’s resolution.
- Step 3: Agendize the resolution. Attend any meetings to offer support from community members during public comment.
- Step 4: Follow up with district staff to implement safe haven policies. Areas where you should ask questions:
— How will presence of School Resource Officers (SROs) in close proximity with students on campus and any cooperation with ICE, etc, be handled? What are expectations of SROs in keeping information about an undocumented student or student’s family member confidential and not disclosed to city law enforcement or federal immigration officials? What trainings will take place to make expectations clear? What city laws and state laws might complicate or further protect undocumented children or their families?
— Will individual schools incorporate the “safe havens” implementation and trainings into the Safe Schools Policy for each school? Will all school staff be trained on the social, emotional, and legal protections the school will make available to students?
— What perimeters will be enforced by the school district for each school outside of which ICE or other officers are not allowed to enter school property without prior express permission?
— What is the district’s response should mandated reporter laws trigger child protective services that conflict with district safe haven policies?
— What proactive steps is the district taking to introduce, strengthen, or add curriculum that addresses difference, mutual respect, appreciation of history and cultures from multiple vantage points and of a variety of peoples, in order to reduce ignorance, fear, and implicit bias?
— What resources will the district commit to ensure that families at risk know their rights? Do these efforts include continuing parent education workshops, will a clearinghouse of legal resources be made available, will there be simultaneous translation so families speaking various languages can understand? Will schools offer additional counseling and other resources to children expressing fears about deportation or “banning” and family separation?