You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Some Austin teachers warned not to give students information on ICE


Highlights

The school district’s attorneys cautioned educators not speak of controversial issues on campus

Some principals are forbidding teachers to distribute materials on how to respond to ICE raids

A handful of Austin district principals, after receiving an email from legal counsel, on Tuesday prohibited teachers or other campus staff from distributing materials to students detailing what to do if immigration enforcement officials show up at their homes or try to question them.

In a memo sent to principals Monday night, the district’s attorney spelled out limitations for educators:

“An employee, staff member, teacher, or administrator may not speak to political affiliation, views, protests, advocacy or other controversial issues or topics that may arise while on district property, whether that is in a classroom or in an administrative building, working as a district employee, or using district resources.”

The attorney also wrote that the same restrictions apply to district partner organizations, usually on campuses daily, such as Communities in Schools and Family Resource Centers.

Teachers at several campuses last week provided such information to students, as word spread of an immigration enforcement operation in Austin. Labor group Education Austin provided its 3,000 members with the various documents, including a United We Dream flier titled “What to do if ICE comes to your door,” referring to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Education Austin also hosted two “Know Your Rights” training sessions on immigration laws on Saturday that drew 250 educators.

Education Austin leaders disputed the legal advice of the school district’s attorneys, calling it a conservative interpretation of the law. The labor group plans to seek its own legal guidance on the issue. Preventing teachers from providing “information that supports their students,” only causes harm, said Ken Zarifis, president of Education Austin.

Some immigrant parents withheld their children from school in recent days out of fear they, their children or family members may be detained by immigration enforcement officials. The labor group has been distributing information that says immigration enforcement actions generally do not occur at “sensitive locations,” including schools, unless someone poses an imminent threat.

“It’s real simple. Students are in crisis,” Zarifis said. “Where the students will turn to first outside of their household is their teacher and their school. If we don’t provide the information to them, we’re doing them a disservice. We believe it is a moral imperative to share this information with the families throughout this school district. We are still hopeful that the district will see this imperative and assist their families with knowledge and information. They need to be armed with the knowledge that will give them options and choices of what to do and how to protect their family.”

Pamphlets and fliers that had been placed in some campus offices were removed Monday and Tuesday, Zarifis said.

“They took any information down and told teachers not to disseminate information,” he said. “You have principals who are afraid because they’re being given a directive, even if they want to get information out.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Scientists find 7 'Earth-sized planets' orbiting star 40 light-years away, NASA says
Scientists find 7 'Earth-sized planets' orbiting star 40 light-years away, NASA says

Forthy light-years from Earth, scientists have discovered seven "Earth-sized planets" in the largest-ever cache of planets found around a single star outside of our solar system. "The discovery gives us a hint that finding a second Earth is not just a matter of if, but when," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the...
NASA to announce 'discovery beyond our solar system'
NASA to announce 'discovery beyond our solar system'

Scientists will share newly discovered information on Wednesday about planets that orbit stars other than Earth's sun at a 1 p.m. news conference hosted by NASA. The announcement that NASA would share findings on a "discovery beyond our solar system" came Monday. The vague nature of the tease prompted speculation that scientist could unveil...
Here’s how to reach Austin District 5 Council Member Ann Kitchen
Here’s how to reach Austin District 5 Council Member Ann Kitchen

If you live in most parts of South Austin, here’s how you can reach your City Council member: Who she is: An attorney and former state representative, Ann Kitchen spent much of her career as a health care consultant before being elected to the council in 2014. For five years she was the executive director of the Indigent Care Collaboration, a...
2 more tornadoes confirmed in Austin area in late Sunday storms, National Weather Service says
2 more tornadoes confirmed in Austin area in late Sunday storms, National Weather Service says

Norma Prieto’s house on 12300 block of Mustang Mesa Drive in southern Travis County was badly damaged by a storm on the night of Feb.
Here’s how to reach Austin District 7 Council Member Leslie Pool
Here’s how to reach Austin District 7 Council Member Leslie Pool

If you live in parts of North Austin, here’s how you can reach your City Council member: District 7 Council Member Leslie Pool Who she is: Leslie Pool, an Austinite since the 1980s, was elected to the City Council in 2014 and won reelection in 2016. Prior to that, she worked as the executive assistant to Travis County Constable Carlos Lopez and...
More Stories