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LAPS considers draft policy on privacy of immigrant students

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By Wren Propp

Following approval of a resolution to guard the privacy of immigrant students by the Los Alamos Public Schools board earlier this month, on Thursday the board will take up first drafts of a policy and a regulation on the subject.
The policy and regulation discussions, along with a report on Los Alamos Middle School academic progress and programs are slated for review by the board at its monthly work session, 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Los Alamos Middle School, 1 Hawk Drive.
The board also plans to talk about guided discussions that have occurred throughout the district’s community on changing start times for high school students.
The proposed policy and regulation supporting students’ safe access to public education – regardless of their or their family’s immigration status – was the subject of a resolution adopted by the board earlier this month. The drafts are identified as the first reading for the board and aren’t currently designated for action on Thursday. Policies and regulations usually go through at least three public readings prior to a vote by the board, said Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus.
Without a state or federal law requiring local schools to help U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, the board decided, with its resolution, that it would not do so without a warrant.
Also, the resolution calls for school employees to not ask about a student’s immigration status or keep any records showing that information after admission.
The proposed policy draws much of its language from the resolution, noting that ICE officers, per longstanding policy, usually do not enter sensitive areas, including schools, schools events, or bus stops, without special permission or under emergency circumstances, according to documents provided by the school district.
The proposed regulation spells out how school staff should react if ICE comes calling without a warrant: send all such requests to the superintendent, call the student’s parents; and don’t provide any information regarding the student’s whereabouts, according to the documents.
In other items:
• Middle School Principal Mike Johnson will present a report on academic strategies launched at the school, such as organizing the school week to a include a 42-minute period each Wednesday for homework and tutoring. The strategies also include organizing students in the two grades at the school in “teams” of academic-focused groups.
• An update on discussions regarding student start time at the high school organized by New Mexico First. The public policy organization was hired to work with students, staff, parents and other community groups to look at the benefits and detriments of a later start to school for high school students. Studies have maintained that older teenagers often experience sleep cycles different from older adults and younger people, where they experience a deep sleep later and experience difficulty in waking up.