More than 70 people – many wearing red and waving red paper hearts – showed up at Tuesday night’s Sonoma Valley Unified School District board meeting to ask board members to consider a resolution declaring the schools a “safe haven.”
The issue was supposed to be on that night’s agenda, but was withdrawn because boardmember Sal Chavez was going to miss the meeting.
The board will take the matter up at a special meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 28, and the meeting will be held in the Altimira multipurpose room.
More than a dozen people – including high school and middle school students – addressed the board with their concerns.
Claudia Robbins, a member of a group calling itself “It Won’t Happen Here,” provided the board with a proposed resolution that she said incorporates ideas from similar resolutions passed around the state.
The resolution she presented asks local government agencies to proclaim that they won’t cooperate in any actions “to institute detentions, deportations, registries, conversion therapies, imprisonment or any other acts that target or discriminate based on immigration status, race, ethnicity, religion, country of origin, ability, political affiliation, economic status, age, gender-identity or sexual orientation.”
She told the board that the group consulted VIDAS of Santa Rosa; ILRC (Immigrant Legal Resource Center of San Francisco and Washington, D.C.) and the U.C. Davis Immigration Law Center as sources.
Among the points in the proposed resolution are:
The board of trustees, through the superintendent, shall not allow ICE agents or representatives on school district sites, facilities or material property without the superintendent’s prior written approval.
The school district will protect the data and identities of all students, family members or school employees.
The Sonoma Valley Unified School District board will work closely with the City, County and other state and local municipalities and community organizations to ensure students and families are offered a protected space.
The district will develop a plan for children left unattended at school after school hours because their parents or caregivers are unavailable due to possible detention or deportation.
Other speakers talked about children being traumatized and families being torn apart. One speaker, a middle-school student, broke into tears but continued. And a high school student got about two sentences into her statement before she decided she couldn’t continue. Another student read her statement for her.
As each speaker made a point, numerous hands waved red cutout hearts in support.
After about an hour, board President Dan Gustafson closed the comment session and said that the country is a different place than it was six months ago. And that there are a lot of people who are anxious about what the future will bring. The other three members of the board, Nicole Ducarroz, Britta Johnson and John Kelly made brief statements.
Numerous other agencies have passed similar resolutions including the Santa Rosa School District and the Sonoma County Office of Education.
The special meeting to vote on a resolution will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28, at Altimira Middle School.
Email Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.