Last week in one of our school districts, a school bus pulled up to one of its regular bus stops where the students on the bus were subjected to witness a disturbing event. Officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested a parent who was at the bus stop accompanying their child. This event was clearly traumatic for the family who was confronted by ICE, but also for every student on the bus witnessing this event.
ODE considers bus stops an extension of our school system. Like our classrooms, gyms, cafeterias, hallways, busses and ballfields – bus stops should be safe, inclusive, and welcoming for all students, families, staff, and community members. This action by ICE made this bus stop, and by extension, our schools an unsafe place for the children and families we serve. The action was harmful and traumatic and is counter to our shared values for schools and the children we serve in Oregon.
We do not know if ICE plans more arrests or confrontations at school drop-off and pick-up sites or other school, school-sponsored, or school-related activities. It would clearly be troubling if this were to become a regular practice. As Oregon educators are increasing efforts to build resiliency for students through the practice of culturally responsive trauma informed practices, students are experiencing new traumas related to involuntary separation from their parents. As our school districts work to improve regular attendance, families and communities will become fearful of gathering at school sites. This practice by ICE impacts both our children and families and our ability to meet their needs in a safe and inclusive environment.
“No child or their family should have to feel afraid to participate in their public school, and no student should ever have to experience the trauma of a family being torn apart – especially at a school bus stop. OEA strongly condemns these actions and is committed to building a safe and inclusive public school system that serves every child in Oregon.”
— John Larson, OEA President
We Serve Every Child in Oregon
All Oregon students are entitled to equal access to a public elementary and secondary education regardless of their actual or perceived race, color, national origin, citizenship, immigrant status, or the status of their parents/guardians. ODE and the State Board of Education stand behind this entitlement, and further believes that leading with a strong equity stance and approach to education services is critical to ensuring the success of Oregon’s students and families.
Our immigrant families are valued members of our communities across the state. However, they are facing more challenges, like the changes to the “public charge” rules.* Schools play a critical role in ensuring inclusivity, a social safety-net, and an education for our students. These new issues faced by our families’ present new challenges for our stretched system, but as educators we always put children at the center of our work and…I know we will strive to serve every child in each of our communities across Oregon. I commit to working with state and federal officials name these tactics as harmful and ask that they cease confrontations and arrests in or around schools and school-related facilities. Thank you for your service and please reach out if we can be of assistance.