You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

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


Welcome to

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

Some Austin teachers warned not to give students information on ICE


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

NEW DETAILS: Police: Man fatally shot in North Austin, suspect still on the loose
NEW DETAILS: Police: Man fatally shot in North Austin, suspect still on the loose

Austin police are investigating a shooting that left a man dead in North Austin on Sunday night. Austin police Lt. Brian Gretzner said officers were sent out to an apartment complex in the 300 block of Carmen Court around 9:36 a.m. after getting calls for a man with traumatic injuries. When first responders arrived, they found a man who had been shot...
Warm, cloudy Monday expected in Austin, showers and storms will ramp up on Tuesday
Warm, cloudy Monday expected in Austin, showers and storms will ramp up on Tuesday

Monday forecast for Austin: Forecasters say the beginning of the week in Austin will be warm and cloudy before storms start rolling into the area on Tuesday. According to the National Weather Service, afternoon highs in the Austin metro area should peak at around 87 degrees. While skies will be mostly cloudy, rain is not expected to arrive until Tuesday...
Austin’s new Central Library opening delayed — again — to late this year
Austin’s new Central Library opening delayed — again — to late this year

The opening date for Austin’s new Central Library has been pushed back again, to this fall at the earliest, dismaying City Council members who said they don’t know how to defend the project to constituents. “It’s Groundhog Day,” said Council Member Ora Houston in a workshop last week, referring to the repeatedly vague...
Traffic Report 3/27/17

Interstate 35 (Travis County): The inside lane of the northbound access road will be closed at William Cannon Drive for 1,000 feet from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday through Thursday nights. The inside lane of the northbound access road will be closed at Slaughter Lane for a half-mile from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday through Thursday nights; the William Cannon...
Community news: Open house set on Parks Department’s ADA assessment

TRAVIS COUNTY DOWNTOWN AUSTIN Open house set on ADA assessment The city of Austin Parks and Recreation Department will host an open house meeting to present findings and recommendations of the American with Disabilities Act self-assessment and the department’s systemwide transition plan from 6 to 8 p.m. April 6. The meeting will be at the Austin...
More Stories