After a 45-minute debate, the Ventura County Board of Education approved a resolution opposing Proposition 187, the November ballot initiative that would bar illegal immigrants from public schools and deny them medical treatment.
The school board voted 4 to 1 at its Monday evening meeting, with trustee Wendy Larner casting the dissenting vote.
Board member Juanita Sanchez-Valdez introduced the resolution to oppose the ballot measure. And several county residents addressed the board on the controversial issue.
Simi Valley resident Walt Madrid, who is running for a county school board seat, spoke in favor of the ballot measure, which would deny public schooling, non-emergency health care and other social services to illegal immigrants.
Two representatives of the Oxnard-based advocacy group El Concilio urged the board to take a public stand against the initiative.
Sanchez-Valdez said Tuesday that the proposition was short-sighted. Immigrants come to the United States for jobs, she said, not for education and other public services.
Rather than stem the tide of illegal immigration, she said, Proposition 187 would create an underclass of illiterate, indigent state residents.
"Immigrants are not going to leave the state" if the ballot measure passes, she said. "They're just going to become an underclass."
But Larner said at Monday's meeting that the point of Proposition 187 is to relieve taxpayers of the unfair burden of paying for social services for immigrants who are in the country illegally.
"I don't think anybody expects this to solve the immigration problem," she said. "The intention is that California taxpayers do not pay for services to criminals or the children of criminals."