STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. – DeKalb County School District Superintendent Stephen Green believes diversity makes America stronger, and by that measure the school district is a powerhouse.
Green issued a statement recently to highlight diversity in the district and urge compassion for its immigrant and refugee students, which come from dozens of different countries and speak dozens of different languages, The Champion Newspaper reports.
“We are hearing a lot of conversation right now, some of it extreme, about how residents from originally outside our country should be treated,” Green wrote. “We have 102,000 students here. They come from more than 180 countries, and they speak 140 languages. We value them; we love them and we respect what their presence here says about the goodness and generosity of America – our diversity is our strength.”
The statement, issued Jan. 30, comes after two teachers were removed from their posts at Cross Keys High School for allegedly making disparaging remarks against illegal immigrant students.
Both teachers were removed from their classrooms on Nov. 10 as district officials launched investigations into claims they allegedly made about illegal immigrants in the wake of Donald Trump’s historic election win on Nov. 8, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.
Both teachers – ESOL and history teacher Susan Petre and French teacher Diane Clark – resigned in late November and early December, in lieu of termination, district officials said.
A Cary Reynolds Elementary school nurse was also investigated for alleged anti-immigration comments on Facebook.
District data shows Cross Keys High School’s student population is 80 percent Hispanic or Latino, 11 percent black, 6 percent Asian, 1 percent white, and 1 percent other races, The Champion reports.
Green spoke out against teachers injecting their personal feelings in December, and reiterated his point in the Jan. 30 statement.
“Our schools will be safe places for learning and teaching,” he wrote. “We will not tolerate any form of bullying or discrimination on or off district property that interferes with learning or the rights of others.”
Earlier this month, rumors swirled around the Atlanta area about Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents allegedly carrying out raids at area schools, including Cross Keys High School and others, WXIA reports.
“Apartments behind Woodward Elementary (Park Town and Marquis Crossing) and Cross Keys High School are being raided by immigration,” according to a tip to the news site. “Word is that they are headed to the schools next to pick up the students of anyone detained.”
ICE officials assured area residents that officers do not conduct raids on schools or churches, and have not increased enforcement actions since President Trump took office.
“I can tell you that for the entire Atlanta field office (which includes Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina) ICE fugitive operations teams have arrested approximately 200 unlawfully present foreign nationals for the entire week in the course of our ongoing enforcement activities – and most of those 200 individuals are convicted criminals,” ICE Southern Region Communications Director Bryan Cox wrote to WXIA on Feb. 10. “Again, approximately 200 people for the entire week across a three-state area. The breakdown is roughly even split between each of the three states. I trust this data will help alleviate any concern regarding any of the rumors about large-scale ‘sweeps’ that are now circulating.”
Superintendent Green, meanwhile, is urging school officials to show love to local illegal immigrants to help them assimilate into the school district.
“Imagine how hard it is to come to a new country and start life over without familiar ties to family, culture or language,” he said. “DeKalb schools give an anchor to our new citizens. Our role as school leaders is to help learning in our schools to become love – love for a new place, a new way of life and, ultimately, for one another.”