MCPS Reaffirms Pledge To Offer Safe Schools to Undocumented Students

MCPS Reaffirms Pledge To Offer Safe Schools to Undocumented Students

School system lays out its position following DeVos' remarks on immigration enforcement

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Days after the U.S. education secretary came under fire for her comments on undocumented students, Montgomery County Public Schools has reiterated its commitment to providing welcoming learning environments for all.

In a message posted on the MCPS website, the school system explained how officials are addressing the heated national debate on immigration issues and reports of increased deportation efforts by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“We do not intend to cause unnecessary alarm in our school communities, but we want our families and students to know that we are working with other Montgomery County agencies and community organizations to prepare for any scenario,” MCPS wrote in the Thursday message.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos this week said during a congressional committee meeting that it’s up to individual schools whether to report undocumented students to ICE. Her remarks quickly drew a backlash from civil rights groups, who said DeVos’ statements conflict with the Constitution.

“The Supreme Court has made clear that every child in America has a right to a basic education, regardless of immigration status,” Lorella Praeli, director of immigration policy and campaigns at the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a prepared statement.

Matt Post, student member of the Montgomery County school board, said he was disgusted by DeVos’ comments.

“I thought they were morally gross. I can’t imagine turning away kids who just want to learn,” he said Friday in a phone interview.

Post said from his vantage point, the county’s undocumented families seem to be experiencing heightened levels of anxiety since the start of the Trump administration.

“Our county works best when all families trust the education system. DeVos’ comments certainly do not help with establishing that trust,” he said.

The post on the MCPS website referenced the Supreme Court’s 1982 finding that denying public school education to undocumented children is discriminatory and violates the Constitution. MCPS officials have “received no indication” that there will be immigration enforcement actions in schools and does not exclude children based on immigration status.

“Our schools do not require students or their families to provide any information about their immigration status, and MCPS staff are not required to report undocumented students to ICE,” the post stated.

The website also includes links to a list of other resources and information about MCPS’s position on immigration issues.

Bethany Rodgers can be reached at bethany.rodgers@bethesdamagazine.com

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