San Jose Unified seeks to reassure undocumented families

February 8, 2017 at 11:59 am | UPDATED: February 8, 2017 at 12:18 pm

SAN JOSE — After being blasted by parents for a vague and confusing statement purporting to protect undocumented students, the San Jose Unified school board on Thursday will take up a new resolution intended to shore up student security from immigration agents.

The district follows dozens of others declaring their campuses safe places for learning, regardless of students’ immigration status. Alum Rock in San Jose, Oakland, Palo Alto and San Francisco all have issued statements claiming they will protect students.

A resolution before San Jose Unified’s board in January spoke to preventing interruptions in the school environment, helping ensure that students feel valued, providing information — and was titled, “Inclusive learning environments.”

Parents among an overflow crowd at a Jan. 26 board meeting called the resolution too broad, and said it did not make them feel protected.

But just how effectively schools can fend off or respond to roundups of those illegally in the country, as Donald Trump as candidate promised and as president has hinted, is questionable.

What is certain is that a wave of fear and anxiety has gripped those fearing deportations will break up their families.

That apprehension has prompted educators to reassure students and parents, and to put in writing their pledges of support.

In December, Alum Rock schools Superintendent Hilaria Bauer heard of kids telling teachers that they might not be back at school after winter break.

“It just broke my heart,” Bauer said.

She spent her vacation visiting homes to speak with worried parents. It turns out, she said, that she had no answers for many of their questions.

They wondered who would take care of their kids if they were deported, where they would live if they were evicted because the breadwinner disappeared and how they could keep their families together.

Bauer didn’t know. “Here were some real-life questions, and who’s going to provide answers?” she said. She’s working with city and county authorities to try to stitch together resources for parents and plans for her district to respond should deportations step up.

In San Jose Unified, a revised resolution also mentions resources and non-disclosure of information to immigration authorities. The board will consider the resolution at a 6 p.m. Thursday meeting in district offices, 855 Lenzen Ave., San Jose.

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