Many students, staff and families across our county are deeply concerned about the President’s plan to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Action Arrivals (DACA) program. As educators, I strongly believe that we share a responsibility to nurture and protect each and every one of our students. I want to assure you that HCPSS remains firmly committed to educating every child in a safe and welcoming environment.
I certainly don’t wish to insert myself into any political debate and I hope – as we all should – that the President and Congress will find a common sense solution quickly. However, my charge is to educate each and every child that enters one of our 76 schools. We don’t track immigration status nor do we ask questions or request documentation. We teach – but children can only learn when their basic needs are met.
Security is one of a child’s most basic needs. I know that we have students in our schools whose families live day-to-day in fear of having their family separated. When children come to a Howard County public school, I want them to know that they are safe. Then, and only then, can I expect the great educators across this county to be able to effectively teach and their students thrive.
Our Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is collaborating with school and system leaders on a plan for assisting any students who may be affected by the decision. We will leverage available resources for teachers to support students including counselors, school psychologists and county resources.
I want to reiterate the fact that HCPSS does not request, investigate, document or share information about the immigration or citizenship status of any student or family member. It’s simply not our business. We teach without discriminating against any person or group for any reason.
The Board of Education and I stand together in our commitment to maintain a culture that preserves the dignity of all individuals, and to advocate for tolerance and respect for every community member. As I have said in the past, I will stand up for any child or adult in our school system or community who is subjected to derogatory words and actions, and I call on others to stand with me. Kindness, acceptance, and the genuine desire to understand others’ perspectives are powerful forces against prejudice and injustice.