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New Report Urges New York School Districts to Better Protect and Support Immigrant Students and Families

05.17.2017 | As the families of more than 190,000 immigrant students across New York State wrestle with the current climate of fear and uncertainty, a new report finds major inconsistencies in how New York’s school districts are responding and the extent to which they are rising to the challenge of protecting and supporting the immigrant students and families they are charged to serve.  

The report, Safe Havens: Protecting and Supporting New York State’s Immigrant Students  [PDF] — released today by The Education Trust–New York, Advocates for Children of New York, the New York Immigration Coalition and The Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, Inc. — finds that while the New York State Education Department (SED) and the Attorney General’s Office, as well as several individual school districts, have taken a number of important steps, there is much more to do. 

Based on a review of documents from the 25 school districts that together enroll 80 percent of the state’s immigrant students, Safe Havens spotlights positive practices and troubling trends and highlights four critical areas where change is needed:

  • Welcoming all students regardless of immigration status or national origin. 
  • Collection and handling of personal information. 
  • Responding to federal immigration officials. 
  • Supporting students and families when a parent, family member, or guardian is at risk of deportation or has been deported. 

Drawing on the experiences of immigrant community-based organizations, advocates, and service providers, the report includes a set of recommendations for stronger supports at the state, school district and school levels. The report’s recommendations include that SED: assist school districts to provide greater support for immigrant students to ensure their long-term success; reiterate that questions about national origin should not be asked during the student registration process; encourage school districts to adopt — and in some cases, strengthen — their protocols for how to respond to any request for access by ICE; and reinforce the importance of providing social-emotional support. 

“The recommendations in Safe Havens provide a clear roadmap for steps that New York State and district leaders should take to ensure that immigrant students and their families feel safe and supported by public schools,” said Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York. “We appreciate New York State’s and New York City’s efforts to date and believe that the recommendations in the report will assist school districts across New York in meeting the ongoing concerns of immigrant families.”

Read the report [PDF]