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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #17-70
October 5, 2017
Contact: Robert Oakes
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Praises Governor for Signing Bills to Protect California Immigrants and Refugees

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today praised Governor Jerry Brown for signing several new bills to increase school, housing, workplace, and civil protections for California’s immigrants.

“The Governor and Legislature are providing great lessons for our students about civil rights, protections under the law, and the guarantee of equal access to public education for all students regardless of their citizenship status,” Torlakson said.

After the November 2016 presidential election, Torlakson urged California school districts to declare themselves “Safe Havens” and remind students and their families that, with few exceptions, federal immigration authorities cannot get information about a student’s citizenship status or enter school grounds.

To date, 116 school districts representing a combined 2.7 million public school students have passed such resolutions.

“We embrace, honor and celebrate diversity in California,” said Torlakson, who started his public service career as a teacher and coach. “We know we are stronger when everyone is welcome, everyone is embraced, everyone is encouraged to participate in the great state of California’s civic, cultural, and educational life.”

Several of the bills will enhance support, assistance and protection for students who come from immigrant families. For example, Torlakson supported AB 699 by Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach), which provides guidance to school districts on how to respond to federal immigration enforcement activities on or around school grounds. This bill also emphasizes that discrimination based on immigration status is prohibited within California’s kindergarten through 12th-grade public schools.

Torlakson also backed SB 257 by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), which requires a school district to admit a pupil, regardless of their residency, if the pupil provides evidence that their parent or guardian has been deported or was forced to leave the state and they previously lived in California.

All of the bills are listed on the Governor’s Latest News External link opens in new window or tab. web page and detailed information about legislation is available on the California Legislative Information External link opens in new window or tab. website.

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Wednesday, April 10, 2019
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