Citizens oppose LAPS immigrant student policy at board meeting

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By Wren Propp

The Los Alamos Public Schools board heard from more people opposed to its proposals to protect immigrant students’ privacy this week.

Opponents called the measures political posturing and attempts to turn the district into a “sanctuary” school district where children will flock for a good education, during a board meeting on Tuesday.

Two people also spoke in favor of the measures.

Board members took up a second reading of a draft policy and regulations that among other measures, prohibits Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, unless they have a warrant, from entering school property without the permission of the superintendent.

“When did ICE last come to the school? I’m sure the liberal media would have blown it up,” said Greg White, a resident of Los Alamos, during a public comment period.

The board met at its monthly meeting on Tuesday, and also took up first readings of other policies and regulations that would be impacted by the proposal, such as student records and non-discrimination.

Board members also disagreed among themselves.

Board member Stephan Boerigter said a section of the proposals was “fundamentally flawed,” because it has nothing to do with students, but about law enforcement. He noted that no other law enforcement officers meet the same prohibition as ICE in the proposed policy and regulations.

“It feels like political posturing in reaction to a federal agency and I think it is unnecessary,” Boerigter said.

Board member Bill Hargraves said he thought all law enforcement should be prohibited from school campuses.
As she has at every meeting where the topic has been discussed, Board President Jenny McCumber said the discussion isn’t intended to be a platform for political debates regarding immigration, nor does the school district have the legal ability to prohibit students based on their immigration status.

Following review of the second draft of the privacy policy and regulation, members of the public made comments or read their protests to the board.

“Our world-class education is not free. I don’t think we should be giving away free activities, free education and free meals,” said Lisa Shin of Los Alamos.

She told the board she was “gravely concerned” about the board’s policy, which was adopted about a month ago.

Others said there is no need for a policy – ICE already considers school property a safe zone.

“It’s disappointing to see, it’s not necessary at this time,” said James Whitehead.

Others expressed positive comments, noting that previous public discussions at the board’s meeting have relieved students’ anxiety.

“Although it has been difficult to discuss, it has had a positive effect,” among students and teachers, said John Cullinan.

Two people submitted comments via email to McCumber earlier this week.

One said she’s concerned about students who may be vulnerable if Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is ended.

“I would be interested to know if any LAPS students will be impacted and what LAPS might be able to do to help them,” wrote Jane Lin, whose email was released by the school district.

McCumber responded, saying “our hope would be to put policies and process in place that would both help any students who might be affected and make sure our schools are prepared if such a situation arises.”

Kathleene Parker submitted an email as of Monday to McCumber and the Monitor.

Parker said in the email that she is opposed to the board’s resolution, calling it a “sanctuary school resolution.”

She proposed a greater emphasis on the country’s immigration history to be taught in classrooms.

“How can we have a nation being ripped apart over the hot-button issue of immigration, yet Americans know almost nothing about our de facto history, which I assure you is not that depicted by the popular media today,” Parker wrote.