[lg policy] SK Immigration Task Force turns to school district to pass immigrant protection policy

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Mon May 21 10:43:40 EDT 2018


 SK Immigration Task Force turns to school district to pass immigrant
protection policy

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SOUTH KINGSTOWN—Ten months after the South Kingstown Immigration Task Force
saw success from its efforts to pass an immigrant protection ordinance in
South Kingstown, the group has turned its focus onto the school district to
pass a similar policy.

“I’m here to ask you to move towards passage of a school policy that
protects all students and their families in South Kingstown schools,
regardless of their immigration status,” Veronika Kot, a member of the task
force, addressed school committee members last Tuesday.

The immigration task force spent much of 2017 pushing for immigrant
protections at the municipal level, ultimately succeeding in October as
South Kingstown became the first Rhode Island municipality to adopt a
comprehensive ordinance protecting immigrants.

Among other things, the ordinance recommends the adoption of a school
district policy which would establish procedures for handling interactions
with immigration officials seeking information on a student’s immigration
status.

The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) also issued guidance last
year to help school districts develop plans to support students who might
be impacted by immigration actions. RIDE recommended in fact that districts
adopt comprehensive policies and plans for their faculty and staff to
follow.

Immigration task force members have provided school committee members with
a model policy outlining “how teachers and school officials should handle
requests for information by immigration authorities,” Kot explained, as
several other immigration task force members sat behind her in the SKHS
cafeteria.

“All students and families, whatever their citizenship status, should feel
safe and welcome in our schools,” Kot continued. “This we know is essential
for children’s wellbeing, as well as for the involvement of their families.”

She added that the model policy could be adapted with minimal edits to fit
the needs in the South Kingstown School District.

Carol Czaja, another task force member, also gave her thoughts.

“As a retired teacher, I feel that I’m in a position to reflect on the
changes over time in the school climate,” she began. “We’ve always had
policies in schools—for example, fire drills, and we’ve had policies in
place as to who is on the approved list to pick children up from school.”

Czaja added that she’s witnessed an evolution over the years of the types
of policies adopted by school committees.

“Unlike before, we now have policies… for lock-downs in the event of a
potential shooter,” Czaja said, “but we do not have a policy in place for
school immigration issues.”

“Without directive,” she continued, “school employees are not likely to
know how to respond to an immigration issue.”

As of Thursday, the agenda for the next school committee meeting had not
been posted and Superintendent Kristen Stringfellow was unaware of whether
it would be on the agenda.

In other business regarding policies, the school committee voted
unanimously last week following second readings to adopt an internet
filtering policy, a revised elementary student placement policy and a
revised student suspension and expulsion policy.

Compiled by the South Kingstown District Technology Committee, the internet
filtering policy governs internet filtering systems in compliance with a
2016 state law requiring such policies.

Under the revised elementary student placement policy, outdated language
has been removed from its previous version, and under the revised student
suspension and expulsion policy, the concept of an expulsion has been
removed.

The school committee also reviewed last Tuesday a revision to the
district’s early college, dual and concurrent enrollment policy.

“We had a couple of concerns related to the policy that was written
originally,” explained Chip McGair, the district’s STEM (science,
technology, engineering and math) director.

When the policy was adopted in 2015, the exact model policy was apparently
adopted, McGair said. There are a couple areas where McGair said he’d like
to make modifications. For example, policy language was tweaked to allow
any student in the district—not only high schoolers—to enroll in a
concurrent enrollment course.

“We didn’t want to block a student who’s that advanced from being able to
take a course like that,” he said.

Language was also altered to allow just students who are either juniors or
seniors to enroll in dual-enrollment at a university.

The next school committee meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, June 5.


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 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/

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