“This is a time when many of our KIPPsters, Big and Little, as well as their families are experiencing uncertainty and fear. As a child of immigrants, I stand with you.” Sehba Ali, Superintendent, KIPP Houston Public Schools
At KIPP Houston Public Schools, we embrace and protect diversity. We believe that great education transforms lives. We are convinced that every student, regardless of race, religion, socioeconomic status, gender, sexual identity, ability, or country of origin, has the potential and the right to go to and through college and lead choice-filled lives. Our commitment to them is absolute and unwavering.
We will continue to hold high expectations, helping students develop strength of character, providing highly effective teachers and leaders, and providing safe, structured and nurturing environments for all students. Supporting the integrity of our families is consistent with KIPP Houston’s core values of honor, commit, persist, excel, and enjoy. During this time, our work getting our KIPPsters To and Through is even more important. We will give our KIPPsters the tools they need to build a better tomorrow.
At KIPP Houston, we strongly believe that knowledge is power. Today we need to empower our families with the necessary knowledge and resources to understand their rights. We have compiled this document to address some questions KIPP Houston families may have regarding their immigration status and our commitment to protect our KIPPsters.
Q: What impact does undocumented immigration status have on my child’s education?
A: None at all. All children have a constitutional right to equal access to education regardless of their immigration status or that of their parents. That right cannot be taken away by the president, the State of Texas, or Congress.
Q: Do KIPP Houston Public Schools ask for information regarding a child’s immigration status when he or she enrolls?
A: No. Public schools systems like KIPP are obligated to enroll students regardless of their immigration status and without discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin.
Q: Would KIPP Houston Public Schools ever share a student’s immigration status with federal immigration officials?
A: The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal law, gives parents certain protections with regard to their children's education records. Even though most information is private, certain information, called “directory information” is only private if you designate it as private. KIPP defines directory information as: student name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, date or attendance, awards received in school, and most recent previous school attended.
We are obligated to share directory information with officers and other government officials or anyone who requests it, unless you indicate in writing that you want your child’s directory information to be private. We are reminding you that you can make changes to the Directory Information form at any time. If you would like your child’s directory information to be private, please contact your school immediately. Under the law, our schools are not permitted to monitor the immigration or citizenship status of our students, and we take this legal obligation seriously.
Q: Can children be removed from school by immigration officials?
A: Immigration enforcement actions may only take place at a school when (a) prior approval is obtained from an appropriate supervisory official, or (b) there are exigent circumstances necessitating immediate action without supervisor approval. Therefore, absent highly unusual circumstances, under current policy immigrant families should not fear encountering immigration officials engaging in raids at schools. For more information visit: https://www.ice.gov/ero/enforcement/sensitive-loc
Q: What about if I am a DACA recipient?
A: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is based on an order by the president. The new president could choose to rescind that executive action. If you are a recipient of DACA, consider reaching out to an immigration attorney now in order to determine if you have access to a better form of immigration status. Additional information can be found on the Immigrant Legal Resource Center website, https://www.ilrc.org.
Q: What should I do if I want to better understand my immigration rights?
A: Only immigration attorneys can provide you with accurate advice about immigration status and how you can pursue your legal rights. For your own protection, please do not seek the advice of notarios or others who are not licensed immigration attorneys.
Q: What other resources are available?
Houston Immigrant Rights Hotline http://www.ailatexas.org/2017/03/immigrant-rights-hotline-in-houston/ Hotline number: 1-888-507-2970. Operating: Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm
- You should understand how to seek competent immigration help and be aware of fraudulent service providers who will take advantage of immigrant families. The ILRC has created community education flyers about this available in English and Spanish available online at https://www.ilrc.org/anti-fraud-flyers
- Everyone in the United States has rights even if they have no immigration status. You have the right to refuse to speak with an immigration official until you have a chance to speak with an attorney. You have the right to refuse to open your door for an immigration official unless the official has a warrant from a judge. Go to https://www.nilc.org/issues/immigration-enforcement/everyone-has-certain-basic-rights/ for more information.
Additionally, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has created easy-to-use resources so you can have your rights at your fingertips.