KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Knox County school officials are working to reassure illegal immigrant students that they’re safe in school with a special flyer distributed in five different languages.
The “Frequently Asked Questions for Immigrant and Refugee Services” is aimed at the roughly 3,000 English language learners in Knox County Schools to put them at ease amid President Donald Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration into the U.S., WBIR reports.
The fact sheet delves into a dozen different questions often asked by refugee and immigrant families in the district, from advice on harassment to the district’s process for handling immigration inquiries from federal officials to a host of special services offered by schools.
“Knox County Schools welcomes all students living within the district. KCS does not ask the immigration status of its students, and KCS is legally required to educate all students living within its county limits,” the FAQ sheet reads.
“KCS does not inquire or collect information about legal status and does not participate in any immigration enforcement activities, nor does it share information regarding status with outside agencies.”
The document directs immigrant and refugee families to enroll students in their local zone school, and encourages parents to avoid keeping kids at home over immigration concerns, because “your student needs a great, safe education and should be in school every day possible.”
The fact sheet was distributed to all of the district’s 88 schools, in English, Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, and Kirundi.
“The enrollment of English Language Learners in KCS has doubled within the last five years and continues to increase rapidly,” according to the KCS website. “Almost 3,100 English learners from more than 92 different countries who speak 80 different languages attend schools in 2016-17!”
KCS director of student services Melissa Massie told the Knoxville News Sentinel the FAQ sheet is the district’s effort to be proactive, rather than a response to a spike in inquiries for the information.
“I think there’s been a lot of information in the press and concerns of being proactive,” she said.
“We’ve probably had a couple of questions from community members, but I wouldn’t call it a tremendous push. But we do have some families with some questions.”
For illegals concerned about immigration raids, the FAQ sheet contends “federal immigration officers and other law enforcement officers may only take a child from school with a lawfully issued arrest warrant, protective custody order, other court order, permission of the parent or guardian, or other similar legal authority.
“If a school is presented with a court order or warrant by a law enforcement agent seeking access to confidential information or private spaces of the school, the school office will contact the Superintendent’s office or the district’s legal counsel for advice before proceeding.”
The flyer also informs immigrant families that “translation services are provided at meetings regarding your child and at many school events” by contacting the school principal.
It also states that “KCS has translators and interpreters and has contracted with a service to provide direct support to families and schools” with non-English speakers.