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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #18-26
April 5, 2018
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Torlakson Applauds New Guidelines for Undocumented Students and Families

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today applauded new guidelines to protect the rights of undocumented students and their families at California’s more than 10,000 public schools.

State Attorney General Xavier Becerra developed the Promoting a Safe and Secure Learning Environment for All: Guidance and Model Policies to Assist California K–12 Schools in Responding to Immigration Issues guide External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF), to help schools develop policies to safeguard the privacy and personal information of students.

“This guide gives students, parents, educators, and the public, valuable information about the laws and the limits of immigration enforcement,” said Torlakson. “It’s a big step forward in support of all of our efforts to make sure students and their parents, regardless of citizenship status, feel safe and welcome at public schools.”

Last year, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation requiring the Attorney General to issue guidance to help California’s public K–12 schools and other local educational agencies develop policies to protect the rights of undocumented students.

“Every student, regardless of immigration status, is entitled to feel safe and secure at school,” Becerra said. “It’s our duty as public officials and school administrators to uphold the rights of these students so that their education is not disrupted.”

The guide describes what public school officials can do when interacting with federal immigration agents. For example, the Supreme Court decision Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202 (1982), requires schools to enroll all eligible children regardless of their citizenship or immigration status. State and federal laws also prohibit schools from disclosing personally identifiable student information to law enforcement without the consent of a parent or guardian, a court order or lawful subpoena, or in the case of a health emergency.

The guide also addresses policies for responding to hate crimes and bullying that targets immigrants. More information is available on the Attorney General’s Office of Immigrant Assistance External link opens in new window or tab..

This information is a valuable addition to the Safe Haven movement. So far more than 130 local school boards, representing nearly 2.7 million students, have passed resolutions declaring their schools “Safe Havens.”

Torlakson launched the program in 2016 so school districts could reassure students, parents, and educators that everyone is welcome on school sites, regardless of immigration status. Information is available on the California Department of Education Safe Havens Initiative Web page.

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

Last Reviewed: Tuesday, August 3, 2021
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