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School Board Told To Make Schools Safe Havens From Deportations

Gwendolyn Glenn/WFAE
CMS board members listen to residents concerned about arrests of immigrants in the country illegally

Federal Immigration officials say it's business as usual in terms of last week’s arrests of immigrants in the country illegally. There were nearly 700 arrests nationwide and 84 in North Carolina. The crackdown, as President Trump called it, has some Charlotte residents nervous. Many made their concerns known at Tuesday night’s school board meeting.

School board members acknowledged the concerns immigrant families and others have about last week’s arrests, including one near the predominately Hispanic Berryhill School. Board member Elyse Daschew tried to assure parents that the schools are safe havens.

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have assured our district leadership that schools and school bus stops are at this point considered to be safe from any immigration law enforcement activity involving our students,” Daschew said.

But Waddell Academy seventh-grade teacher Justin Parmenter says he’s seen an increase in absenteeism in some of his immigrant students and something else.

“In the last month, I’ve heard the level of fear on the part of many of my students increase, I’ve seen it in their writing as they react to news of changes in immigration policy and arrests of undocumented immigrants in our community,” Parmeter said.

Others told board members that fear is affecting students’ grades. Betsey Rosen, a parent and volunteer at Myers Park High School says some students are also worried that their parents will be arrested bringing them to and from school.

“Let immigrant families know that their children are safe in our schools, ensure the best you can that our bus stops and when parents are taking their children to and from school that those are considered safe zones,” Rosen said.

Board members were asked to work with local non-profits in educating immigrant families about their rights, provide more counseling for students and give teachers more training on how to work with students whose families could face deportation.