OPSB Passes Policy To Buffer Students From Immigration Enforcement In School

Sep 15, 2017

The Orleans Parish School Board passed new guidelines Thursday night that immigrant rights groups say will better protect students from immigration and law enforcement in school.

The policies lay out a number of steps principals have to follow when law enforcement show up and ask to interrogate a student or look at student data as part of an investigation that’s not school related. That includes investigations regarding immigration status. Step one: Law enforcement officers have to show the principal a warrant or other court order.

[Click here for the new policy on student interrogations]

[Click here for the new policy on law enforcement access to student data]



"The safety of all our students, all of our students, is a top priority here in our school district," says OPSB Superintendent Henderson Lewis, when the board voted unanimously to pass the new guidelines.

Lewis says the guidelines clarify existing policies schools have for cooperating with law enforcement. The board began work on the policy after hearing from local immigrant rights group Nuestra Voz in July.

Speaking through an interpreter after the school board meeting, parent Mario Mendoza says he and other immigrant parents in Nuestra Voz pushed for the policy because of changes they were seeing in the political climate.

"We have seen how hate, and racism, and discrimination has been raising," he says.

Other school districts around the country have passed similar guidelines, including in Los Angeles, and Durham, North Carolina.

The new board policy only applies to the parish’s direct-run schools. That’s just four schools, out of 87 in Orleans Parish.

Bricolage Academy, a charter school, also passed similar protections after hearing from Nuestra Voz. Nuestra Voz says it's encouraging all charter schools in Orleans Parish to pass similar policies.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that there were three direct-run schools. There are four direct run schools.