Friday, June 22 , 2018, 8:37 am | Fog/Mist 60º

 
 
 
 

3 New Members Join Santa Barbara Unified School District’s Board of Trustees

New board adopts resolution to support undocumented students, saying community members have been concerned since the election

Three new members were sworn in Tuesday night to the Santa Barbara Unified School District board of trustees. One of their first actions was adopting a resolution to support undocumented students. Click to view larger
Three new members were sworn in Tuesday night to the Santa Barbara Unified School District board of trustees. One of their first actions was adopting a resolution to support undocumented students. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

After three new members were sworn in Tuesday night, the Santa Barbara Unified School District’s board of trustees adopted a resolution to support undocumented students. 

As community members and students looked on, Laura Capps, Jacqueline​ Reid and Wendy Sims-Moten took the oath of office at the district headquarters.

Each board member selected a member of the community to administer the oath.

Congresswoman Lois Capps administered the oath to her daughter, outgoing board member Pedro Paz to Reid, and Sims-Moten’s son swore in his mother.

Among its first actions was the new board's decision to approve a resolution that addressed the safety of all students and families, regardless of their immigration status.

The resolution vows to protect the confidentiality of student’s information, and says immigration officials cannot enter campuses “to the fullest extent provided by law.”

“It’s meaningful for us — as new members — to have this be one of the first actions we take in this new role,” Laura Capps said. “It breaks my heart that students who already feel fear, every day, are feeling more fear. I hope this can be somewhat healing, but I also know these are words.”

The district voted to take action following the November election, saying students and staff in the school community have “experienced a period of apprehension because of serious concerns regarding the status of undocumented students.”

Parents and students hold up signs supporting a resolution — passed unanimously by the Santa Barbara Unified School District board of trustees — to support undocumented students. Click to view larger
Parents and students hold up signs supporting a resolution — passed unanimously by the Santa Barbara Unified School District board of trustees — to support undocumented students. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

A handful of community agencies, district students and parents took to the podium in support of the resolution.

Monique Limón, a former board member who recently took the oath of office to represent the 37th District in the California Assembly, spoke to the standing-room-only crowd during public comment.

Limón said the resolution upholds the U.S. Constitution, particularly the 14th Amendment.

“It allows every student to come to our K-12 public school and get a free, quality education,” Limón said. “The context isn’t just about putting words on a piece of paper. This alone will not create the safe space that we need to provide to teach and for students to learn.”

Limón said additional work is needed to create safe spaces in the school community. 

Additionally, students spoke about hate speech they experienced or witnessed.

“After the election, there has been more hate speech, especially antisemitic and heterosexist language, and slurs being thrown around nonchalantly,” said Josh, senior at San Marcos High School

Another speaker said approximately 65,000 undocumented American students graduate from high school each year, according to the American Immigration Council.

“Please help make our schools be a safe zone, and let the students worry about their grades and college,” said one parent, the mother of a 12-year-old boy. 

The district — which serves about 14,335 students at more than 20 schools — is joining a number of other districts around the state and nation taking action after the presidential election results.

“I’m hearing from my colleagues across the state that every district is facing this challenge,” Superintendent Cary Matsuoka said. “It’s a challenging spot for our teachers to present a safe space. This is a community need.”

District spokeswoman Barbara Keyani presented the resolution saying, “undocumented children are not alone in their fears.”

She noted students who identify as LGBTQ, female, disabled, Muslim, or a person of color “view the recent election through a very different lens than others whose point of view differs, and whose vote should be equally respected.” 

The two-page resolution specifies the district will support children from all backgrounds, including those from undocumented families.

The unanimous approval from the board prompted a round of applause from the crowd, cheers and attendees holding handmade signs saying “#Safe Zone SB.”

“It’s important we have a framework as we move forward, with making sure what we say is happening on our school campuses,” said board member Kate Parker, who was voted as the new board president Tuesday. “You need to hold us accountable.”

Parker is now the only incumbent on the school board since Gayle Eidelson, Ed Heron and Paz did not seek re-election this November, and Limón was elected to the State Assembly.

Since Limón was elected before the end of her term, the board needs to appoint someone to serve for the next two years.  

The SBUSD board race wasn’t on November’s ballot since only three people applied for the seats. ​Capps, Reid and Sims-Moten were appointed in lieu of election. 

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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