ICE requests information from Metro elementary school; school refuses

Posted at 4:53 PM, Oct 10, 2019

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Immigration officials requested student records from Una Elementary School in Nashville, but school officials did not release them.

Una is a school that is largely made up of immigrant students. Thirty-nine percent of it students are English Language Learners, and 23 different languages are spoken at the school, according to a Nashville Scene report. School officials said "...all MNPS employees, contractors, and volunteers are respectful of the privacy of students and families."

The circumstances surrounding the request are unclear, but the news of it was concerning to immigration advocates.

"[ICE has] shown they will stop at nothing to strike fear in our communities and separate families in Nashville...," said Conexión Américas Executive Director Juliana Ospina Cano in a statement.

MNPS officials released the following statement explaining why the documents weren't released:

"Immigration officials recently visited an MNPS school, Una Elementary, to request student records, but school officials did not release them.

Under Policy 6.600 [], all MNPS employees, contractors, and volunteers are respectful of the privacy of students and families. Confidential student records and information are not to be released. If anyone other than the student’s parent, guardian or other person the parent has authorized calls the school or comes to the school requesting access to a student, student records, or information about a student, only an authorized official (the principal) has authority to determine whether the student information can be released.

If the person requesting the information produces a document that appears to be a legal document that a principal has any question about, such as a warrant or other court order, MNPS principals are instructed to call their superiors for support and review.

It is a principal’s responsibility to share and explain the practical application of the policy to the school’s staff, including teachers and front office personnel, so they can help assure a safe and welcoming environment conducive to learning."

Conexión Américas Director's full statement goes on to explain the group's concern for Nashville's children and immigrant families:

"News broke that ICE has gone to at least one Metro Nashville school to request information about a student. I'm including below a statement from our Executive Director Juliana Ospina Cano.

We are heartened to see Metro Nashville Public Schools take action to proactively protect immigrant students and their families. Over the past few months, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have shown they will stop at nothing to strike fear in our communities and separate families in Nashville. Our schools are places where our children go to learn, grow, and thrive in a safe and welcoming environment. And, teachers guide, serve, and shape lives with empathy, professionalism, and commitment to education.

Federal immigration enforcement has no place in Nashville schools or any school in Tennessee.

Since 2008, Conexión Américas has partnered closely with Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS). Our 16 education program staff members and 13 volunteer parent facilitators serve as trusted resources and familiar faces for Nashville's immigrant students and families each day, from the time children enter MNPS at the Pre-K level through their college graduation. We reach 900 MNPS students and family members from 20 Metro Schools each year with our family engagement workshops, intensive case management services, and afterschool programming, and we collaborate with many more school leaders through professional development sessions and trainings. We proudly share space with 96 of Nashville's youngest students at the Casa Azafrán Early Learning Center, who light up the halls of Casa Azafrán with their energy and excitement.

Conexión Américas' bilingual and bicultural team of educators stand ready to assist MNPS in the implementation of its policies to keep our public schools a welcoming place. We will work with our partners to uphold the Supreme Court’s Plyler v. Doe ruling, which declares that states cannot constitutionally deny students a free public education on account of their immigration status."