On Monday, New York State Education Commissioner Elia and A.G. Schneiderman released joint guidance reminding districts across the State of their duty to uphold key protections for immigrant students. The guidance underscores that all students – regardless of their immigration status – have the right to attend school in the district where they reside and notes that schools should not ask about status. It also states that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may not remove or speak to a student without a parent’s consent, except in very rare situations. Furthermore, it highlights the importance of working with superintendents and school attorneys prior to responding to any ICE request and it reminds districts that parents must consent to disclosing personal student information. This guidance was released alongside additional New York State Education Department (SED) guidance regarding the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) that outlined critical resources and processes to support parents in their home language.
The following is a statement by Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition:
“We salute State Education Commissioner Elia and A.G. Schneiderman for their strong leadership in safeguarding immigrant students during a time of great anxiety and threat to immigrant communities.
“It’s so important that districts and schools across the state have these essential laws protecting immigrant students’ at the front and center given the current national climate. We also appreciate that the guidance extended into critical practical matters, including attention to helping families address concerns around harassment, bias and bullying in their home language. Very meaningfully, the guidance emphasizes the vital role superintendents and district lawyers have in the process before ICE is allowed to do anything. As a follow up to this strong guidance, we encourage SED to provide detailed protocol for addressing ICE requests for access to students or student information.
“We thank Commissioner Elia and A.G. Schneiderman for incorporating our input, shared jointly with Advocates for Children of New York and through the New York State Association for Bilingual Education. We also thank the Board of Regents, led by Chancellor Rosa, for their true concern for protecting immigrant students. We are encouraged by your support during such a difficult time. We look forward to continuing our partnership to ensure safe learning environments for all of our students.”
The New York Immigration Coalition is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for nearly 200 groups in New York State that work with immigrants and refugees.The NYIC aims to achieve a fairer and more just society that values the contributions of immigrants and extends opportunity to all by promoting immigrants’ full civic participation, fostering their leadership, and providing a unified voice and a vehicle for collective action for New York’s diverse immigrant communities.