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Denver Declares Schools "Safe Spaces" For All Students Amid Post-Election Anxiety

Amid anxiety from the school community about the election of Donald Trump as president, the Denver school board passed a resolution on Thursday affirming that its schools were "equitable and safe spaces" for all students.

Thursday's resolution followed a Q &A fact sheet the district published in multiple languages earlier this week to help answer questions from anxious parents and students that had flooded the district since the election.

Trump campaigned on a promise of building a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and banning Muslims from entering the country. Last Sunday, he said on the "60 Minutes" news program that he planned to deport 2 million to 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal records, even though experts have said that there are not 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal records.

Those statements, and others, have left educators in communities with large immigrant populations working hard to respond to students' and families' fears of deportation.

The Denver fact sheet assured parents that students' undocumented status will not affect their education, and that the school district does not ask for such information. It also directed parents to places they could get legal assistance.

Thursday's resolution affirmed that the district's core mission was to educate all children.

Here is an excerpt:

"... We recognize that national events and the current political climate have caused uncertainty and anxiety for many in our communities; and

"WHEREAS, in these times, we recognize that our mission is more critical than ever because we believe that education can help us bridge our differences and can help bring us together around respect and understanding rather than fear; and

WHEREAS, we recognize that national events and the current political climate have caused uncertainty and anxiety for many in our communities; and

WHEREAS, in these times, we recognize that our mission is more critical than ever because we believe that education can help us bridge our differences and can help bring us together around respect and understanding rather than fear; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT PROCLAIMED that the Denver Public Schools Board of Education publicly affirms its dedication and commitment to all of the students and families that we serve, the employees in our District, and the members of our community. We will continue to take any and all actions authorized by law and our policies to provide equal opportunities and safe learning spaces for all of our students."

The Denver resolution echoes one passed by the Los Angeles School District earlier this week in which the school board reaffirmed that its schools were "safe zones" for undocumented students.

But the LAUSD already had a strong resolution in support of undocumented students, which it passed in February.  While committing to ensuring equity for all students, LAUSD essentially directed its staff not to inquire about students' immigration status and forward any request by the federal immigration officials to the district office or district lawyers. 

Similarly, New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia have also sent a letter to school districts about how to respond to incidents of bullying and harassment that have been reported since Trump's election, and how to ensure that their schools are safe learning spaces for all students.  

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