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‘All students are welcome:’ Tacoma schools respond to Trump’s immigration policies

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TACOMA — Tacoma Public Schools told families the classroom will be a safe place for immigrant students. In a letter posted on the district website, Superintendent Carla Santorno said every school will provide a safe and private location where students may seek information and assistance to any immigration law enforcement issues.

“Our schools will be a safe zone for immigrant students to learn and thrive,” said Santorno. “The diversity of our student body, our community and our staff is a strength that benefits all of us and should be celebrated.”

Tacoma Public Schools does not ask for a student’s citizenship or immigration status.

Seattle Public Schools sent out a similar letter to parents earlier this week. The letters are in response to President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order on immigration.

Full letter to Tacoma Public School parents:

January 31, 2017

Dear Families,

Tacoma Public Schools is committed to ensuring that our students feel safe, welcomed and respected at school.

As I shared with you in January, bullying, harassment, intimidation or discrimination has no place in Tacoma Schools. We want Tacoma's dedication to equity, understanding and respect to continue here. That’s why I want to assure you that Tacoma Public Schools will not waver in its role as caretakers of Tacoma’s children.

Our schools will be a safe zone for immigrant students to learn and thrive. The diversity of our student body, our community and our staff is a strength that benefits all of us and should be celebrated. Our rich cultures and the more than 70 different languages spoken in our schools provides all children with the opportunity to learn from others with dissimilar backgrounds and recognizes our common humanity.

Our mission is to serve every child that comes to our school doors, every day. We will continue providing all students  their legal right to access free public K-12 education, regardless of their religion, their place of birth, their language, their citizenship, their immigration status, their parents’ status or any other legally-protected characteristics. Tacoma Public Schools does not ask for nor track a student’s citizenship or immigration status. Further, under the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a student’s citizenship or immigration status is personally identifiable information that may not be disclosed.  

Every school has been directed to provide a safe, private location where students may seek assistance, information, and support related to any immigration law enforcement that interferes with their learning experience. To support this work, our School Board is evaluating a Resolution in support of every student, every day in an equitable and inclusive environment.

Some things in our world have changed, but our basic tasks at Tacoma Public Schools remain the same. Our goal remains, that ALL Tacoma Public School students will graduate college- and career-ready.  We remain committed to developing the Whole Child. We are preparing students to become global citizens.

Today, and every day, all students are welcome at Tacoma Public Schools. 

Carla J. Santorno