California schools chief urges districts to declare themselves ‘safe havens’

Tom Torlakson, the state superintendent of public instruction, is asking school districts to declare themselves "safe havens" for all students following an election filled with anti-immigrant rhetoric.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

California’s top education official has urged the state’s public schools to declare themselves “safe havens” for students who are in the country illegally.

In a letter sent Wednesday to county and school district superintendents, charter school administrators and principals, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson asked them to “remind families about existing laws that protect them and their students’ records from questions about immigration status.”

The letter comes in light of concerns about President-elect Donald Trump’s promises during and after the campaign to deport immigrants who are in the country illegally.


In his letter, Torlakson included a link to a “safe haven” resolution passed by the Sacramento City Unified School District as an example that other districts might follow.

The Los Angeles Unified School District already has already passed a similar measure and set up a hotline and support sites to counsel parents and students who are worried.

“Our schools are not and will not become an arm of the U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement,” Torlakson wrote. “Instead, they will remain safe places for learning and teaching for all students, regardless of immigration status.”

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