March 21, 2017
Dear Students and Families,
We are writing with an update to our letter from January 30, 2017, to reaffirm our commitment to protecting the right of every student in New York City to attend public school, regardless of immigration status. Your child is our top priority, and we will do everything in our power to protect your child and ensure all students get a high-quality education.
To help ensure that all children continue to learn in safe, nurturing environments, we are providing the following additional direction to staff members in our schools:
Federal agents, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will not be permitted to enter schools, except when absolutely required by law.
Current federal policy limits immigration-related arrests, interviews, searches, and surveillance at sensitive locations, which include schools. Federal law enforcement officers, including immigration officers, will only be permitted to enter DOE schools when absolutely required by law, and only after a school has consulted with DOE lawyers. If an ICE officer goes to a school for immigration enforcement purposes, the School Safety Agent will call the principal, who will meet the ICE officer at the safety desk. The principal will advise the officer that he/she must wait outside of the school building while the principal consults with DOE lawyers. The principal will also notify the parent or guardian after consulting with DOE lawyers. Generally speaking, federal law enforcement officers will only be permitted to enter when they have proper judicial warrants or in the very rare situation where certain types of emergencies exist and require urgent action.
DOE staff will not release student information unless absolutely required to by law.
If any law enforcement officer, including an ICE officer, seeks access to student records, the principal will obtain any documentation the officer has, send it to DOE lawyers and wait for further instructions. The principal will also notify the parent or guardian after consulting with DOE lawyers.
DOE and the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) are expanding Know Your Rights workshops for students, parents and community members.
In partnership with the Fordham Law Immigrant Preparedness Project, Catholic Charities and other legal services providers, we are offering 100 Know Your Rights workshops for students that will be available during school hours, after school, and before school across the city. The 100 forums will be held at schools, including community schools and international schools, across the City. The trainings educate students on the rights of immigrant New Yorkers and provide information on City services, safety planning and fraud prevention. Many workshops will connect participants to legal services through ActionNYC at Schools.
We are also offering free, borough-based trainings to families through our Field Support Centers. We will continue to expand these trainings and partner with community-based organizations to offer additional sessions in the coming weeks.
DOE is also providing schools with additional curriculum resources and social-emotional supports.
We are dedicated to providing a safe, supportive and inclusive learning environment in every school building. Schools are receiving guidance on how to facilitate discussions with staff and students that promote respectful conversations about diversity and inclusivity.
Families should update school records.
As a reminder, the DOE does not request information about students’ immigration status. We ask all parents and families to update school records to ensure that we have up-to-date information on file, including contact information for the parent or guardian and at least two additional names and contact numbers for every student. In the event that a parent or guardian is unable to pick up a child from school, the school will use this information to locate a trusted adult who can pick up the child in their absence.
All New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, can continue to access City services.
Call 311. If you have any questions, visit http://schools.nyc.gov/supportingallstudents to learn more about the DOE's immigration guidance and to access resources to support you and your family.
Additionally, we have updated the FAQ document to address additional questions you may have. You can also call 311 or visit nyc.gov/immigrants for more information from the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.
In New York City we are committed to the ideals embodied in the Statue of Liberty. We are a nation of immigrants, and we are a city of immigrants. We are stronger because of our differences. Today, alongside all New Yorkers, we reaffirm our commitment to stand with you.
Carmen Fariña Nisha Agarwal
NYC Department of Education Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs