In response to Irving, Texas, school trustees saying “no” to declaring their district a “sanctuary,” one area activist reacted by telling high school students to boycott their classes on Thursday and Friday.
On March 27, the Irving Independent School District board voted 4-2, with one abstention, against a symbolic resolution that would have designated their campuses as safe havens.
Texas school districts in El Paso, Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Austin proclaimed sanctuary status following a trend set by students on college campuses who objected to President Trump’s executive order that temporarily restricted travel from seven terror-ridden Middle Eastern countries. A federal appeals court later froze the ban.
Irving ISD trustee Nell Anne Hunt authored the resolution that sought to provide a “welcome and safe” space for the district’s children regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, or disability. She appealed to others on the board to vote in favor of it.
“I urge my fellow board members not to do what is easy, but what is right,” she said. “To affirm to our immigrant families that we have their backs. Many of us were once immigrants and our families, too. These immigrants help create the tapestry of our amazing nation. Education is the trajectory that will lead one generation after another to success,” The Dallas Morning News reported.
Federal law already protects K-12 illegal immigrant students from discrimination and requires public schools to educate these students. As Breitbart Texas reported, the 1982 U.S. Supreme Court ruling Plyler v. Doe struck down a 1975 Texas statute that withheld state funds from educating children who were not legally admitted into the United States. It denied their enrollment into public schools unless their parents paid tuition to compensate for lost tax dollars associated with educating these minors. The high court determined the statute violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, reasoning these youngsters had protection from discrimination unless Texas could show a substantial state interest for the regulation.
Additionally, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) prohibits schools from turning over student immigration status information to federal agents.
While Hunt presented the resolution, trustee Randy Necessary alluded to the Plyler case, pointing out the law already protects these youngsters and allows them to obtain a free U.S. public education. Board President Steven Jones added the district’s policies and administrative procedures welcome, affirm, and support the Irving ISD community, according to the Dallas newspaper. He emphasized the school board has no say over immigration. It is a federal issue.
After the vote failed, Hunt voiced disappointment over the school board’s “lack of courage” for not passing the resolution as have other school districts. So did local activist Anthony Bond. He felt the measure would have sent a message “that I care.”
Bond called for students at all four of Irving ISD’s high schools to boycott classes Thursday, April 6, and Friday, April 7, to protest the board’s decision. “This is a drastic step. I will agree with that,” he said, “but it’s necessary,” KXAS reported. He justified asking students to cut class by saying: “A couple days does not make an education. Nor will it destroy one.”
When Hunt learned of Bond’s proposed school boycott, she responded:”It’s totally opposed to what I had in mind.” She said students need to remain in school “every single second,” underscoring this was the “whole point of my resolution.”
A boycott also went against the wishes Dallas Mega March planners, who repeatedly told students to stay in class and march peacefully with them on Sunday, according to KXAS.
Promoted as an interfaith “family, unity, and empowerment” rally for “real immigration reform, the mega march calls for “an end to aggressive deportation efforts that have separated families, targeted DACA students, and left our communities in fear” and “an end to executive orders that “discriminated against our Muslim brothers and sisters based on their faith.”
Irving ISD released a statement reaffirming its commitment to roughly 34,80o students. “Be assured that we value you, and we value your child,” it read, providing links to the “many polices in place to protect students.”
On the boycotts, the district stated: “It is our hope that your child will attend school on those days and allow us to do what we love to do: educate the young people in our community.”
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