"We are here to support the Fairfax School Board Trust Policy and have community members coming to speak to the school board members," said Christian Martinez, CASA Advocacy Specialist. "We've been involved throughout the whole process, and we have not seen any (cause for) concern."
As a new item for discussion on the school board's agenda, there would be no vote on the policy that night, but the school board is expected to vote on the policy on April 28, according to Martinez. The Fairfax County Public Schools Trust Policy aligns with Fairfax County's Public Trust and Confidentiality Policy, adopted on Jan. 26, 2021. https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/topics/sites/topics/files/assets/documents/pdf/fairfax-county-trust-policy.pdf
For students, if the new policy is adopted, the most noticeable change, Martinez said, "would be that they'd be able to have trust when they go to school. … They won't have to worry about anything else besides getting a good education," he said.
Approximately 30 attendees, dressed in CASA sweatshirts, gathered around a microphone set up near the front sidewalk of the school. In their remarks, representatives from immigrant organizations as well as immigrants themselves expressed their mistrust in FCPS and their support for the proposed School Public Trust and Confidentiality Policy.
Diane Burkley Alejandro, the lead advocate for Fairfax Virginia People Power, a grassroots organization founded by the national ACLU, described how CASA welcomed the organization into the fight for immigration rights before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors adopted its Trust Policy (2021) to help immigrants remain safe from police and other cooperating agencies.
"Now it's time for the schools to do their part ... Schools would have the same trust policies that the county does," Alejandro said. "We know that a lot of you came to Fairfax for your children. My husband and I came to Fairfax for our children because they have good schools. Your children have a right to be safe and to get a good education," she said.
According to the Trust Policy, its purpose is to confirm the school board's commitment to providing a safe and welcoming environment for all students and their families, protecting them from fear of deportation.
Janis of Honduras said she immigrated to the United States 16 years ago because of poverty and a lack of opportunities in her home country. "For a long time, I have felt insecure because… [of my] immigration status. And despite the fact that my son was born in this country, in the United States, and attends school, due to my legal status, I am always afraid that my information is going to be exposed to these immigration entities." She talked about the fear parents have of being deported and how it is essential to keep information private so that students can access services without exposing family details to Immigration and Customs Enforcement .
If adopted, the Trust Policy would end any collaboration with federal immigration agencies such as the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.), which helps in detaining and deporting immigrants without documentation.
A. Hernandez, an immigrant living in Springfield, is the mother of an FCPS elementary school student. "I am often afraid when it comes to personal information because I am an undocumented mother. I am afraid my information will be shared with other agencies or with I.C.E. For many reasons, many times, I am afraid at school. It is difficult for my son to enroll in different educational programs. We always have to give all our personal data or present an identification from our country, which makes it more obvious that I am undocumented … The policy provides us with well-being, security, and confidence by ensuring that parents and immigrant children of our country will be able to access school benefits and services without fear that the information we share will be disclosed to federal immigration officials."
Under the proposed school Trust Policy, FCPS employees would refer all requests for information or records from immigration enforcement officials or agents to the Office of Division Counsel for review. Employees could not grant access to school sites without approval from the Office of Division Counsel.According to the April 14 agenda, the recommendation is that the Board approves the Trust Policy. An overview of the FCPS Trust Policy-New is available at https://go.boarddocs.com/vsba/fairfax/Board.nsf/Public. A video of Video - Spring Public Hearing is available at https://www.fcps.edu/node/43732.