Tuesday, March 21, 2017, the Poway Unified School District passed in a 4 to 1 vote a “Safe Haven” resolution affirming that school campuses will be free from immigration enforcement, guaranteeing a safe environment for all students regardless of immigration status. The Board began discussing this issue in January, spurred on by a letter from State Superintendent, Tom Torlakson, urging schools within the state to pass these safe haven resolutions.
“The board’s goal and mine has always been to provide a safe and secure learning environment for all our students. I’m glad we could come together as a board on this important issue,” Board President Michelle O’Connor-Ratcliff said.
This resolution further affirmed California State Boards Association Safe Haven Resolution, protecting immigrant students within California. Although there was some push back on the board that felt this was an unnecessary move. Among those opposing the resolution is Vice-President of the PUSD board T.J. Zane.
“The resolution is a placebo, it makes us feel better but it has no effect,” Zane said.
Zane also criticized that passing this resolution only opens the Board up to receiving more “politically-charged” issues.
The passing of this resolution was in large part due to student Board member Ella Smith, who continually pushed forward this issue.
“We have an obligation to stand up for very vulnerable students,” Smith said.
Torlakson summed up the motivation for these resolutions throughout the state in his letter that can be found here.
“Together, we can make it clear we will do our best to make sure the prospect of the deportation of undocumented students and their families will not interfere with helping our students succeed,” Torlakson said.