Dear County and District Superintendents, Charter School Administrators, and High School Principals:
Implementing California’s New Law on Educational Equity for Students in Immigrant Families
In California, approximately one in two children live in immigrant families, and about one in eight children in schools across the state have at least one parent who is undocumented. These numbers are critically important when reviewing the studies that show how heightened immigration enforcement and anti-immigration sentiment have increased fear and anxiety among immigrant communities, particularly parents and caregivers with school-aged children.
In response to these concerns and to ensure schools remain safe spaces for all children and families, Assembly Bill 699, Educational Equity: Immigration and Citizenship Status, was approved by the Governor and filed by the Secretary of State on October 5, 2017.
On April 1, 2018, the Attorney General’s office released a Model Policy: Promoting a Safe and Secure Learning Environment for All: Guidance and Model Policies to Assist K–12 Schools in Responding to Immigration Issues document to assist school districts in complying with the law. The Model Policy is available on the Office of Attorney General’s web page at https://oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/agweb/pdfs/bcj/school-guidance-model-k12.pdf.
As of July 1, 2018, all California public schools must provide protections for students, regardless of immigration status, and extend specific support to immigrant students and their families.
The new law requires schools to adopt supportive practices in response to heightened immigration enforcement, including updated staff training, curriculum development, and the following:
- Implement measures to prevent students from being discriminated against or bullied based on their immigration status.
- Ensure schools are teaching students about the harm of bullying students based on immigration status.
- Refrain from the unnecessary collection of immigration status information from students or families.
- Report police enforcement of immigration laws to school boards.
- Ensure schools are following a family’s designated emergency plan.
- Inform parents about their children’s right to a free public education and about policies to resist assistance with immigration enforcement at schools.
To further support school administrators and districts in meeting AB 699 requirements, the California Department of Education has joined The Children’s Partnership, Californians Together, the California Association for Bilingual Education, The California Endowment, and others in a new coalition: ALL IN for Safe Schools for All Families. Among the resources made available, you will find an “Educator Toolkit” to help public school administrators comply with AB 699 and to help ensure all California students succeed.
The Toolkit includes sample language for newsletters, family-friendly materials in English and Spanish to distribute to students, a model curriculum to support educators in discussing these issues in the classroom or on campus, and samples of informational, family-friendly cards to help inform parents about AB 699. For more information or to order supplies for distribution on your campus, please visit the ALL IN for Safe Schools website at http://allinforsafeschools.org/.
I hope these resources will be helpful in your work to implement AB 699. Share these materials at back to school nights, parent-teacher conferences, open houses, and other events. Together, we can support students and families by creating a welcoming and anxiety-free environment for all students.
If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact
Gordon Jackson, Senior Policy Advisor to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, by phone at 916-319-0126 or by email at GJackson@cde.ca.gov [Note: The preceding contact is no longer available. Instead contact the CDE Communications Division by phone at 916-319-0818 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org].