ICE allegedly requested the records of several children attending Una Elementary School in Nashville, but the school turned them down.
The school is noted for its diverse learning population, with many students being children of immigrants. Thirty-nine percent of Una Elementary’s students are English language learner students, and 23 different languages are spoken at the school, according to a story inThe Nashville Scene.
According to Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) spokesperson K. Dawn Rutledge, only the principal can determine whether or not a student’s records can be released to someone who is not the child’s parent or guardian.
“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,” she said.
Lisa Sherman-Nikolaus, policy director for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, responded positively to the school’s decision.
“Using school children to tear families apart does not make our communities safer or stronger. The very presence of ICE agents creates fear and anxiety, which only distracts from the important work Nashville educators do to foster a supportive and healthy learning environment for every student,” Sherman-Nikolaus said.
“They have a memo from 2011 saying that schools are considered sensitive locations, along with hospitals and churches,” Gini Pupo-Walker, a Nashville school board member, said. “So, this is alarming that they are willing to sort of cross that line. Really troubling, and I think really creates a lot of urgency for me as a school board member and chair of the governance committee to have us revisit what our policy is on sharing student data.”
Juliana Ospina Cano, executive director of Conexión Américas, also had praise for the school.
“Our schools are places where our children go to learn, grow, and thrive in a safe and welcoming environment,” she said.
“Federal immigration enforcement has no place in Nashville schools or any school in Tennessee,” she added.