From Molly Bornand Peter Smith Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
In what would be a mostly symbolic move, the Pittsburgh Public Schools could soon become the state’s first K-12 school system to declare itself a “sanctuary” campus.
The proposal, akin to a “sanctuary city” designation, would bar immigration agents from school grounds without permission from the district’s law department and the superintendent.
State regulation and Supreme Court precedent prohibit districts from asking about a student’s immigration status during enrollment, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has said schools and other “sensitive locations” should “generally be avoided” for interviews, arrests and searches.
The proposal thus is “symbolic in one sense” but comes “out of fear that under a new [presidential] administration this wouldn’t be the case” any longer, said District 6 school director and board vice president Moira Kaleida, who introduced the resolution at a school board meeting Wednesday.
Of Pittsburgh Public’s 24,000 students, 1,020 are English-language learners representing 57 countries.
Although definitions vary, sanctuary cities typically refer to municipalities that don’t cooperate in full with federal officials seeking to detain undocumented immigrants. Nicole Reigelman, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Education, noted that the term doesn’t strictly apply to school districts because they don’t enforce immigration laws.
Steve Robinson, spokesman for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, also said he wasn’t aware of any such districts in the state. School systems in California, Texas and New Mexico have adopted similar designations.