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Education | Government | Immigration

A sanctuary by any other name...

The Clark County School District administrative offices on Monday, Jan 16, 2017. Photo by Sam Morris for The Nevada Independent.

The Clark County School District wants students and staff to know they’re safe regardless of their immigration status. Just don’t call schools “sanctuary campuses.”

Trustees passed a resolution Thursday with a 6-1 vote that affirms the school district’s desire to provide a safe place for all students and protect their privacy. Trustee Chris Garvey cast the only vote in opposition.

The resolution states that the school district won’t divulge students’ immigration status to enforcement agencies, including ICE, unless there is parental consent, a judicial warrant, subpoena or court order. School officials and police will continue to work with federal immigration officials as legally required to do so.

Trustee Carolyn Edwards, who proposed the resolution, said it does not create a “sanctuary campus,” a politically loaded term that some people believe implies that a local entity won’t comply with federal regulations.

“We are reaffirming that we will follow current federal policy on our immigration status for our students,” she said. “It’s an attempt to raise awareness about that federal policy and to ensure to our families and our students that we will continue to do what we are already doing in terms of protecting the privacy of our students.”

Garvey, who is running for a Las Vegas City Council seat, said she voted no because the board did not have a discussion about the fiscal impact of the resolution. “We have a strict policy right now that says children are protected, bullying is not allowed and we are going to follow the laws to protect every student’s information,” she said.

Rory Reid, president of the Rogers Foundation, which provides student scholarships and funding for education-related initiatives in Southern Nevada, said the foundation asked Edwards to propose the resolution. He said it wasn’t to make a “political point” but rather to provide students a sense of reassurance.

Trustee Erin Cranor echoed Reid’s point that the resolution isn’t intended to send a message to anyone other than school district families and students.

“This is a resolution of reassurance that things will continue to be the way they are,” she said. “You can come to school and focus on learning.”

The resolution earned broad support from more than a dozen community members, including Congresswoman Dina Titus and local immigration activist Astrid Silva, who spoke at the meeting. Silva said even though children’s deportation fears may seem irrational, adults need to realize that children are scared and anxious.

“We may not think it’s a reality, but they do,” she said.

Parent Kenia Morales, who’s also a graduate of the Clark County School District, said it’s a conversation her third-grade daughter had with friends the day after the election. The elementary students were talking about not wanting to have to leave the country, she said.

That’s why she called on trustees to support the resolution. “I believe a school’s role in the community is to support students and support families,” Morales said.

Disclosure: Beverly Rogers of the Rogers Foundation is a major donor to The Nevada Independent.

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