DPS request to immigrant parents: Please update your emergency contact information

Q: If I am a parent or guardian and I am worried about being detained while my child is at school, what should I do?

Slavens K-8 converted its teachers' lounge into a middle-school Spanish classroom. (Melanie Asmar/Chalkbeat)

Denver Public Schools wants to reassure parents that it doesn’t ask for, doesn’t save and won’t share any information about students’ immigration status. But the district can’t control what happens outside the schoolhouse doors, and so the FAQ recently prepared for immigrant parents includes this hard advice:

Q: If I am a parent or guardian and I am worried about being detained while my child is at school, what should I do?

A: In the event that any parents are detained during school hours, the district will engage our crisis and emergency response teams to support our students. Please take this opportunity to update your emergency contact information for your students either at your school or in our Parent Portal.

Denver Public Schools isn’t formally adopting the title of “sanctuary” district, but Superintendent Tom Boasberg and members of the Board of Education say they are formalizing long-standing practice in the form of a “Safe and Welcoming School District Resolution.”

According to the resolution language, the district will not collect or maintain information about immigration status. If immigration authorities come to the school, they will not be allowed in unless there is no legal way to bar them, for example if agents have a valid search warrant. All requests for contact with students will be referred to the school district’s Office of General Counsel.

Boasberg said that schools have been viewed as “sensitive” locations where immigration law will not be enforced, and he hopes that continues to be the case.

Board Member Lisa Flores stressed that the district is upholding the law, not violating it, in protecting students.

“We are turning to our Fourth Amendment,” she said. “We are turning to our Constitution.”

To address widespread fears, the administration has put together an “FAQ” with much of this information, but that document also has to acknowledge that parents may be detained.

Flores said parents should update their emergency contacts and make sure there’s more than just one or two options.

Erica Meltzer

Author: Erica Meltzer

Erica Meltzer covers government and politics. She's worked for newspapers in Colorado, Arizona and Illinois and once won a First Amendment Award by showing up in the wrong place at the wrong time. She served in the Peace Corps in Paraguay and can swear fluently in Guarani. She gets emotional about public libraries. Contact Erica Meltzer at 303-502-2802, emeltzer@denverite.com or @meltzere.