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Park City School District shows support for Latino community

Board president: ‘Schools should be a safe place for all children’

The Park City Board of Education issued a show of support for its Latino students after the capture of four undocumented residents by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials on Feb. 17 shook the town’s Hispanic community.

At a public meeting Tuesday, board member Petra Butler read a statement that said the district wants to ensure schools are a safe place for all students at a time when many immigrant families are fearful of sending their children to class. She said the district is not aware of ICE officials entering any schools in Utah to arrest students, but school officials are considering creating a policy to ensure that any such action would have to first go through a school resource officer.

“The Park City School District supports all its students,” Butler said in the statement. “We have students in our district that have been affected by immigration laws, and we work with students and their families to address their needs, often with community partners.”

The ICE apprehensions set off wide-scale panic among many in the Latino community amid escalating fears since the election of Donald Trump, who has promised to deport undocumented immigrants. School officials have said children are worried their parents could be detained.

Superintendent Ember Conley, however, said in an interview that attendance was normal on Monday, the first day of classes since the ICE operations because school was out last week. She added that counselors are reaching out to support individual students, and district officials are maintaining open lines of communications with Latino families.

She said the efforts of the district’s Latino outreach coordinators have been critical because they have deep roots in the Hispanic community.

“They’ve been phenomenal,” she said. “They are just such a resource. Not only in speaking the language but knowing the families. They’ve been instrumental.”

The Board of Education initially indicated it would vote on a formal non-partisan resolution to support immigrant student safety and learning, but those plans were scuttled before the meeting because of legal issues. Butler’s statement replaced that measure.

Phil Kaplan, president of the Board of Education, said the school board felt it was important to stand by its students and their families.

“Schools should be a safe place for all children,” he said. “Our concern is really around that, kids that may have fear because of the national climate, when they come into the schools, they can feel safe and be engaged and learn, and not be adversely affected.

“… We don’t know if there’s a whole lot we can do,” he added. “We certainly can’t affect the national climate, but on a local level, we want to express support for school safety.”


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