Superintendent asks school board to consider making Antioch a “safe haven” district at Wednesday meeting

Item on agenda for discussion purposes only, for now

By Allen Payton

On the agenda for Wednesday night’s Antioch School Board meeting, trustees are being asked to consider a resolution creating a Safe Haven School District, to mainly restrict the ability of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from enforcing federal immigration law. The effort is part of the California Teachers Association agenda, as stated on their website, and included in their May 1st Day of Action pledge they’re asking all teachers to take.

Following is the draft resolution:

Antioch Unified School District

RESOLUTION NO. 2016-17-30


WHEREAS, The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America recognizes every    individual’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;

WHEREAS, Education has played a critical role in furthering tolerance and strengthening our society;

WHEREAS, The United States Supreme Court in 1982 ruled in Plyer v. Doe that public schools were prohibited from denying students access to Elementary and Secondary Public Education based on their immigrations status, citing that children have little control over their immigration status, the lifelong harm it would inflict on the child and society itself, and constitutional equal protection rights;

WHEREAS, The Antioch Unified School District Board of Trustees is committed to educating all students in a safe and welcoming environment;

WHEREAS, The Antioch Unified School District is committed to preventing and ending acts of discrimination or bullying based on a student’s immigration status, race, ethnicity, color, national origin, religion, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, genetics or disability

WHEREAS, The Antioch Unified School District Board of Trustees believes that celebrating the diversity that exists in our District, elevating the uniqueness of each student, and embracing the cultural assets that both they and their parents bring to the District is vital to the success of all students;

WHEREAS, State and Federal laws prohibit educational agencies from disclosing personally identifiable student information to law enforcement without the consent of a parent or guardian, a signed court order or lawful subpoena;

WHEREAS, Concerns of potential raids by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office (ICE) have caused immigrants in the community to experience increased levels of concern about the presence of ICE in and around schools and the disruption that this presence may have on the learning environment for students and their families;

NOW BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, that the Antioch Unified School District Board of Trustees hereby directs the Superintendent to support the creation of a Safe Haven School District. This shall include:

  • Restricting, to the extent possible by law, the sharing of student and parent/guardian immigration status with federal agencies or officials;
  • Requiring all federal immigration agents seeking access to information or access to a school site have a warrant signed by a federal or state judge;
  • Continuing to promote and enhance a climate of inclusion;
  • Offering appropriate, focused professional development opportunities for staff;
  • Ensuring there are adequate supports and resources for students who may feel unsafe both on and off campus especially as it relates to discrimination or bullying predicated on immigration status, race, ethnicity, color, national origin, religion, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, genetics or disability;

The following questions were sent to Board President Walter Ruehlig and the rest of the trustees, as well as Superintendent Stephanie Anello:

  • First, who requested this be placed on the agenda?
  • Second, is the board now doing the bidding of the California Teachers Association, in passing this, as this is part of their agenda as stated on their website?
  • With the third “Whereas” clause being the law and as the sixth “Whereas” clause states “State and Federal laws prohibit educational agencies from disclosing personally identifiable student information to law enforcement without the consent of a parent or guardian, a signed court order or lawful subpoena;” and the why is this necessary?
  • What message does it send to the law-abiding students? Shouldn’t we be teaching the children in our district to comply with the laws and not pick and choose which ones they want to follow?
  • Is this an effort to keep students attending school instead of staying home?
  • Furthermore, which rights that students in the district have are you not currently being protected? How will this resolution change that?
  • Or is it a message to those parents who are in the U.S. illegally that the District won’t go out of its way to help the federal government deport them?
  • Or is it just pandering by some board members to certain political constituencies?

Anello responded Wednesday morning.

“I placed the item on the agenda,” she said. “As you are most likely aware, AUSD is one of the few districts in far east county that has not passed a Safe Haven Board Resolution. I have been asked by students, parents, community members, and staff if this is something that the Board is interested in pursuing.”

“I placed it on tonight’s agenda under ‘Items for Discussion by Board Members’ so that I could ascertain if it was/was not,” Anello continued. “Without placing it on the agenda, I have no way of knowing the will of the Board as this would be a potential violation of the Brown Act.”

In response, the following additional questions were emailed to Anello, Wednesday afternoon:

  • Why couldn’t those members of the public have asked their elected representatives – the trustees – if they would place this on the agenda?
  • If none of them has asked you to do this, since they’re your bosses, not “students, parents, community members, and staff” why would you agendize such a controversial issue potentially putting them on the spot on a political hot button issue?
  • Would this change the current practices of staff within the school district if it is adopted? If so, how?
  • Finally, who sets the agenda for the board? Isn’t it the Board President in consultation with you, as is done by the Mayor and City Manager for City Council meeting agendas? Since Walter was on vacation last week, was this run by him before being placed on the agenda? And if not, couldn’t it have waited until the next meeting when he could have provided his input, first?


Anello responded with the following comments:

“This is a matter within the jurisdiction of the Board and one that the State Superintendent of Public Education has asked all California School Boards and Superintendents to consider adopting,” she stated. “Thus, it is appropriate to agendize it. Censoring or not bringing forth agenda items because they may be political or controversial, would be highly inappropriate in my opinion. As elected officials, Board Members are expected to weigh in on matters that may or may not be political that are within their jurisdiction. I am confident that AUSD Board Members –by virtue of their running for political office, understand that they may be required to act on issues that may be political in nature and I am confident that they have the courage to do so.”

“The resolution before the Board this evening for discussion is intended to remind parents and guardians about existing laws that protect them and their students’ records from questions about immigrations status,” Anello explained. “It is also intended to let the community know that the District is committed to maintaining a safe and welcoming environment for all students and families. Superintendents and Boards were asked to do both of these things by Tom Torlakson, The State Superintendent of Public Instruction.”

In addition, Anello stated, “Per Board Policy 9322, I  am the Executive Secretary to the Board and, according to this policy, ‘the Superintendent shall prepare the agenda for the Board.’ The agenda shall include items within the Boards jurisdiction. Agenda items may be brought forward by individual Board Members or the Superintendent per this policy. The Superintendent does not need Board permission to place an item on the agenda as long as it is within the Board’s jurisdiction. Items from Board Members can be requested at a Board Meeting and/or thru the President. These items must appear within two regularly scheduled Board Meetings or as soon as practical to allow sufficient research, etc.”


However, Board Vice President Debra Vinson said she approved having Anello place the resolution on the agenda as a discussion item only.

“When I got the draft agenda, it was on there,” Vinson stated. “I said it was fine for discussion.”

Asked if any of these things are happening in the district, such as students being bullied or ICE approaching students and their parents who are here illegally, she replied “No, but I received a copy of an article on (the S.F. Chronicle’s website) listing Antioch and asking whether or not Antioch was participating in collecting students’ citizenship data.”

In addition, Vinson said she received a copy of a letter from the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, sent to State Attorney General Xavier Becerra, about a” Complaint Concerning Discriminatory Enrollment Practices Denying Immigrant Youth Their Right to Enroll in School.” It shows Antioch and Orinda as the only two school districts that request the citizenship data of students when the enroll in the district. LawyersComteComplaintLtr

“The board president is supposed to sit down with her (Anello) to discuss the agenda,” Vinson added. “I know this is a hot issue, but I said we can have it on for discussion, not decision, tonight. We have to hash this out. We’re seeing this for the first time.”

In response to who is responsible for placing things on the agenda, she replied, “Board Policy9220 states that the vice president shall serve in the absence of the president in all capacities.”

A call was made and a text sent to Board Vice President Debra Vinson asking if she approved having Anello place the resolution on the agenda. She was  unavailable until after 5:00 p.m., today. Please check back later for her response.

To see the complete agenda, click here.

The board meeting is Wednesday, April 26 at 7:00 p.m. in the District Office Board Room, 510 G Street in downtown Antioch.

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12 Comments to “Superintendent asks school board to consider making Antioch a “safe haven” district at Wednesday meeting”

  1. RJB says:

    I said it before and I’ll say it again… Antioch sure loves criminals!

    • JC says:

      This state is spiraling into insanity and our town is going right along with it. It is so depressing seeing this town I grew up in being destroyed by illegal Leftist policies and so many are just completely ignorant and/or complacent.

  2. kthor says:

    If you pay for it yourselves, it’s fine, don’t get other taxpayers involved who doesn’t want to pay for it!

  3. Robert says:

    So is there a record of ICE agents entering public K-12 schools here and remove students that are here illegally? If it isn’t happening, why even address it unless it is simply to make a political point and push a political agenda. I can see why Antioch schools are failing, they are busy concentrating on playing politically correct politics instead of providing an education to their students.

  4. albert martel says:

    You know it alway amaze me how folks alway think removing a mexican family is some how fixing the Illegal immigration issue.. these folk continue to fool themselves.. If you want to fix it for good throw homeowner and Business owners in jail and take their home and property for renting , hiring yard workers and handyman and labor that happen to be illegal will fix it but nobody is calling for that so until that happen anybody who complaining about illegals is just fooling themselves and asking the rest of us to join their delusion..

    • Robert says:

      What amazes me is when people assume that all illegal aliens are Mexican and that deporting someone that is here illegally doesn’t fix the problem of that someone being here illegally. As far as for stricter enforcement of all existing immigration laws, I’m all for it. It was the lack of enforcement over the years that created the problem in the first place.

      • albert martel says:

        In this case the only illegal being discuss is from south america & mexico.. show me one news story were they talk about folk from Europe or a non brown location.. and deporting illegal don’t do jack but increase the chance we have worker permit program real soon that will allow millions more than we deport back in..Cause we all know our brought and paid for congress don’t work for the people that send them to office..But work for special interest group who will say we need workers so print them worker permit faster than a rain drop fall..jail for the homeowner and business person is the only real fix..and reward to anybody who turn the real law breaker in..The illegal for the most part is doing it to feed their family . The homeowner and business person is breaking the law out greed for cheap labor.

  5. Marty Fernandez says:

    Illegal is illegal and it is against the law. Throwing a valid law in the face of law enforcement is not a good idea.

  6. Rjb says:

    Are you a criminal that is here illegally? Are you a child molester, rapist, or drug dealer that just wants to be left alone to do your crime? Do you hate it when the po-pos always bother you when your robbing, killing, raping, or smoking weed?

    Do you want to live in a place where as long as your a criminal you are protected? Are you lazy and hate working a 9-5 and would rather smoke crack all day without the law harassing?

    Well, come on down and live in good’ol Antioch! The city where the criminals are protected and the garbage elected!

  7. Loretta Sweatt says:

    When you hide and force children to stay in the shadows, you are teaching these children to be liars and felons. You are teaching them that they have to lie about themselves, lie to the government and that they never be able to tell the truth about who they are or where they came from. You are teaching them to be ashamed and you are teaching them that there is no way for them to ever be equal, respected, honest and paid fairly. You are teaching them to grow up to be indentured servants and victims. If you are going to hide them for the next 20 years, and call it sanctuary, at least get started on some paperwork, and send it to the 9th Circuit, they’ll approve anything.

  8. Arne says:

    I gather that the AUSD supports foreigners breaking our immigration laws – sad.

  9. Fallout says:

    “It shows Antioch and Orinda as the only two school districts that request the citizenship data of students when the enroll in the district.”

    Is there something wrong with that? There is if you think that having an ID is unnecessary to vote.
    Why even have IDs? California Driver’s Licence, Marriage Certificates, bank loans, auto insurance, stopped by the police, who needs an ID? We’re all people of the world.

    They are trying to sell us anarchy one step at a time.

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