County board votes to make SCOE a safe haven
The Sonoma County Board of Trustees and the County Superintendent, acting as board secretary, signed the resolution Recognition of a Safe Haven County Office of Education at its February 2nd board meeting.
“There are students and their parents in Sonoma County expressing concern regarding their immigration status and fear of deportation,” said Board President Peter Kostas. “This has a profound affect on students' ability to concentrate on their schooling. This resolution cites the U.S. Supreme Court holding that students are a protected class and have equal protection rights under the 14th Amendment.”
The five-member, publicly elected county board is the governing body for SCOE. It works in conjunction with the county superintendent, who is also an elected official, to provide services and support to the county’s 40 school districts as well as provide special education and alternative education classes to students from across the county.
The resolution follows similar ones recently passed by Santa Rosa City and Sonoma Valley Unified school districts, as well as a statement released by State Superintendent Tom Torlakson.
“This resolution by the county board reaffirms SCOE’s ongoing commitments to protecting the rights of all students,” said County Superintendent Steve Herrington. “All students should feel welcome and safe to learn in Sonoma County.”
Unanimously approved by all four board members present that night, the resolution takes numerous steps to reassure and protects students of immigrant families in Sonoma County. See the full text here.
“We felt compelled to make a statement that we are unequivocally committed to ensure a safe educational environment for all SCOE students and their families,” said Kostas. He noted that SCOE's Alternative Education Program serves students who were unsuccessful for various reasons in their district of residence.
“About 62 percent of our Alternative Education students are of Latino/Latina descent and 27 percent are English Learners. By signing this resolution, we are delivering a message to our students that the SCOE Board of Trustees is committed to their safety and welfare,” Kostas said.
For additional information for parents and families concerned about their immigration status, SCOE is sharing a fact sheet about the rights of immigrants.