Las Vegas Sun

January 17, 2018

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School Board approves ‘sanctuary’ status for Clark County immigrants

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John Locher / AP

Clark County School Board member Carolyn Edwards listens to public comment during a board meeting Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017, in Las Vegas. School trustees in Las Vegas, where almost half the students are of Hispanic heritage, declared the nation’s fifth-largest public school district a safe haven for students, regardless of their citizenship status.

Members of the Clark County School Board reaffirmed a commitment to protect the privacy of the district's undocumented students Thursday night.

Buoyed by public support from Nevada Rep. Dina Titus and well-known Dreamer and immigration activist Astrid Silva, the vote makes CCSD one of a handful of school districts that have passed similar resolutions, including Portland Public Schools and the Oakland Unified School District.

"Our schools should be a safe place for students," Titus said. "We can reassure them."

The move comes amid reports of an increase in teasing and threatening statements toward Hispanic and Latino students since the election of Donald Trump. Rhetoric around immigration was highly divisive during the presidential campaign, with Trump calling for a mass deportation of undocumented immigrants and the building of a border wall.

Local parents and teachers who spoke in public comment told personal stories of seeing students bullied on account of their skin color in the months since Trump's election. Concerns that the divisive rhetoric was creating a hostile learning environment was the main reason the resolution was brought by Trustee Carolyn Edwards.

"Children have to feel safe at school," said Trustee Linda Young.

The resolution was also supported by the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada and the Rogers Foundation.

Legally, the resolution doesn't change any current policy within the district. Already the district is not required to reveal private information about its students, or turn them over to authorities except in certain circumstances.

"We will continue to do what we already are doing: Protecting the privacy of our students," said Edwards.

The resolution passed with the support of every trustee except one. Chris Garvey was the lone dissenter.

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