It's a challenging time for foreign-born students, amid politicized scrutiny of immigration and refugee issues and a flare-up in verbal and even physical attacks on students even by isolated teachers across the U.S..
NIOTBN thus met recently with Unit 5/District 87/University High students and staffers in a first-time immigrant alliance training session. Thirty U High, Bloomington Junior High and High School, and Normal Community and Community West representatives participated in what may develop into a communitywide "train the trainer" effort.
"There's a lot of work to be done," NIOTBN Education Subcommittee Co-Chair Mary Aplington maintained.
Helping lead the three-hour program was David Hirst, a member of The Immigration Project board and former head of Normal West's World Language Department.
Protecting immigrant students from individuals within the school is not the only challenge for families. The controversy over federal immigration officials ramping up arrests and deportations -- even venturing into schools -- spurred District 87 Superintendent Barry Reilly to stress that while the district is required to cooperate with immigration officials, schools “would not let an agent meet with any student without the consent of a parent,” assuming an agent has no criminal warrant.
He said “in the end, FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) protections apply to all students.”
“Unit 5 has policies regarding interviews by outside law enforcement officers,” said Curt Richardson, that district's attorney. According to administrative procedures in the Normal-based district, interviews of minor students by outside law enforcement officers without permission of the parents is not permitted at school unless a legal process is presented.
Immigration arrests in cities such as Memphis, Tenn., have led to growing fears some families may keep their children home from school.