FAQs Concerning Immigration Status and Students In Public Schools
Updated March 2017
We have been hearing concerns from our community about the possible impact of immigration regulations. To help address these concerns, we are providing the information below. Our priority is to ensure our schools are welcoming spaces where all students can feel secure while they are in our care and in pursuit of their education, regardless of a student's race, ethnicity, religion or immigration status.
Q: What impact does undocumented immigration status have on my child’s education?
A: None. All children residing within SAISD boundaries have a constitutional right to equal access to education regardless of their immigration status or that of their parents. That right is based on a United States Supreme Court decision and cannot unilaterally be taken away by the President of the United States or the State of Texas.
Q: Do SAISD schools ask for information regarding a child’s immigration status when he or she enrolls?
A: No. Public school districts like SAISD are obligated to enroll students regardless of their immigration status and without discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin.
Q: Would SAISD share a student’s immigration status with federal immigration officials?
A: We do not collect this information nor share it. Other identifiable student data would only be shared under these circumstances if we have written parent consent or if a valid subpoena for the information was presented and in such case, federal law requires that we make a reasonable effort to notify the parent in advance of complying with a subpoena so you would know that we intended to comply beforehand, unless a court orders SAISD to refrain from such disclosure.
Q. What would SAISD do if it received a request from federal immigration agents to enter a school for the purpose of speaking to a particular student?
A. SAISD administrators would follow SAISD policy on questioning of students by law enforcement or other lawful authorities found in GRA (LOCAL). These guidelines include verification and documentation of the interviewer and parental notification efforts. Click here to view policy GRA (LOCAL). Additionally, until more unanswered questions are resolved on a national level, SAISD officials have been authorized to seek legal advice on a case by case basis to ensure that the District complies with all applicable laws and policies while simultaneously taking into account the legal rights of the student and those of the student’s parents or guardians.
Q: What does SAISD do to ensure that no student is discriminated against or harassed?
A: The District has policies in place that prohibit discrimination, including harassment of SAISD students or employees on the base of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, disability, or any other basis prohibited by law.
Q: What should I do if I want to better understand my immigration rights?
A: Only licensed immigration attorneys can provide you with accurate advice about immigration status and how you can pursue your legal rights. Here is a link to information on agencies which may provide further assistance. List of Pro Bono Legal Service Providers
Additional FAQ for SAISD employees:
Q: How would the District handle a situation where a student is in crisis due to a parent or guardian being deported or incarcerated?
A: A school administrator or counselor should first verify by contacting the parent, guardian or other family members listed on the student’s emergency contact information. If administration is unable to make contact and the student is left on campus, a campus administrator would contact the SAISD Police Department to attempt to locate a family member. If police cannot locate a family member or individuals listed as an emergency contact, then they would contact Child Protective Services. The campus counselor would provide counseling during this time.
Q: Can a school distribute materials to students from an outside organization?
A: Per District policy GKDA Local, school distribution of non-school literature must first be submitted to the Superintendent’s designee – Carmen Vazquez-Gonzalez in Governmental & Community Relations – for review prior to be permitted on campus.
Q: What is the policy for an outside organization requesting use of District facilities?
A: Requests need to go through the Principal and Facilities Services.
Q: Are SAISD employees allowed to participate in political activities regarding national events?
A: SAISD employees may participate in political activities on their own time.
Q: Can teachers include current events as part of a lesson plan?
A: Teachers may discuss current events in their social studies, government or sociology classes, looking at how political activities unfold and the differing viewpoints that exist. It’s important for teachers not to take a position, and to guide an open discussion. All discussions need to have respect for differing opinions.