April 5, 2017
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson Honors Sacramento City Unified for Safe Haven Efforts
SACRAMENTO —State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today commended the Sacramento City Unified School District for its leadership in the movement for school districts to declare themselves as “Safe Havens” and urged other districts across the state to follow Sacramento City Unified’s example.
“It’s critical in this climate that California schools reassure their students, parents, educators, and local communities that schools welcome everyone regardless of immigration status,” Torlakson said.
“Federal law requires schools to educate all children, even those who are undocumented. Students cannot learn and succeed if they are afraid to come to school, or if their parents are afraid to allow them to come to school or otherwise fully participate in the school community.”
Torlakson’s remarks came during a school visit and town hall forum today at Oak Ridge Elementary School in the Sacramento City Unified School District. Oak Ridge Elementary serves a student body that is largely Latino and Hmong from immigrant families.
Located in Sacramento’s Oak Park neighborhood, the school is represented by Sacramento City Unified School District Board of Education First Vice President Jessie Ryan, who spearheaded the District’s Safe Haven efforts that resulted in a Safe Haven resolution last December (PDF). The District has continued to promote tolerance and a welcoming environment while informing students and their families of their rights and legal protections against stepped-up federal immigration enforcement.
“Sacramento City Unified is honored by State Superintendent Torlakson’s recognition of our Safe Haven work,” Ryan said. “We are proud to have him stand with us to ensure that all children feel welcome at every school—regardless of their immigration status. We stand together for the safety and protection of our families.”
Torlakson last year urged California school districts to declare themselves Safe Havens and reminded schools of state and federal safeguards in place that protect immigrant families. To date, nearly 60 separate school district boards, representing a total of nearly two million students, have adopted Safe Haven or similar resolutions.
Last month, Torlakson reached out to the federal government to clarify whether it is changing a longstanding policy that had avoided immigration actions near schools. Torlakson has also filed a friend of the court brief in federal court supporting Santa Clara County’s request to stop an executive order by President Donald Trump that threatens to stop federal funding for California cities, counties, and possibly public schools.
More information is available at the California Department of Education’s Safe Havens Web page.
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Tom Torlakson —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100