By Tim Hunt
School trustees declare "safe haven"Uploaded: Mar 2, 2017
The Pleasanton school trustees are the latest public agency to wade into the debate about illegal immigrants.
The board unanimously passed a resolution declaring that no immigration enforcement agent could enter a school campus without the written permission of the school superintendent, thus becoming a so-called “safe haven” district. That strengthened the existing federal policy that required permission from federal officials before entering schools or churches.
The district put forth the resolution in response to a request from state schools chief Tom Torlakson to remind parents and students that they have rights and school districts are required, by a Supreme Court decision, to provide education to all students who register. County schools chief Karen Monroe sent out a similar letter Tuesday.
Just why trustees felt it was important to do this when board president Joan Laursen said it “will not change how we do business” points to the political ramifications.
Some of the language sounds just like Democrat talking points that have been spouted off since President Trump won the election.
For instance, the resolution states, "The national presidential election has resulted in many students and families in Pleasanton expressing fear, hopelessness, sadness, and concerns for student safety, heightened because of intolerant rhetoric made over the course of the 2016 presidential race," the resolution reads. "Students and families across the district have experienced increased levels of hate speech based on their ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation since the election."
The resolution notes the growing diversity of the district with 4,952 students speaking a language in addition to English; 8,263 students of color and 1,466 Hispanic students (about 10 percent of the enrollment.
Former trustee Kathleen Ruesegger, who ran unsuccessfully for the school board last fall, had it right when she spoke to the political implications.
Incidentally, Dublin, Fremont and Hayward districts have passed similar resolutions.
Pleasanton district officials jumped into a similar area in January when student services sent out a memo discouraging teachers from having students watch President Trump’s inauguration live. The recommendation, based upon student safety, was to discuss it later using clips that had been reviewed.
Doing that, of course, significantly reduces the interest and the “teachable moment.” In today’s media-saturated world with its 24-hour news cycle, wait two days and who is interested?
Certainly, ensuring student safety is job No. 1, but being safe does not include being sheltered from subjects that students might find distasteful or irritating, particularly in high school. The district is striving to prepare its students for life in college and beyond—equipping them to think critically and deal with subjects or people they disagree with is simply part of life.