Bay Area Schools Rethink Collecting Students’ Citizenship Data

SANTA CLARA (KPIX 5) — Bay Area school districts are under pressure to stop asking questions about citizenship on student enrollment forms.

There’s concerns it might have a chilling effect on families.

One local district is now re-thinking its policy.

Students and families who entered the country illegally are fearful they’re tipping off immigration enforcement just by enrolling in school.

Civil rights lawyers found many school districts ask sensitive immigration questions on their enrollment forms including the student’s social security number, or when they entered the country.

And they want to put the practice to an end.

Leticia Alvarez with People Acting in Community Together (PACT) said, “A lot of parents have concerns like being exposed, having their immigration status being exposed.”

Alvarez is an immigrant community organizer who says those questions are scary to some families.

“They might just take their kids to another school district, if only some districts are requesting that,” Alvarez said.

Or she says some parents might just keep their kids out of school.

“The lawyers’ group found 75 school districts in California have some sort of questions on their enrollment forms having to do with immigration status. The forms themselves are readily available and can be found on most school district websites,” Alvarez said.

Bay Area districts asking immigration questions include Dublin, Sunol Glen, Antioch, Orinda, Ross Valley, San Mateo-La-Honda-Pescadero, Berryessa, Campbell Union High, Fremont Union High and Santa Clara Unified.

Santa Clara’s enrollment form asks when students entered the country. The district says the question has been there for years and its well-intentioned.

Santa Clara Unified School District spokesperson Jennifer Dericco said, “In the past, they have definitely served an educational purpose to help us provide support especially to students coming from other countries where they might need English learner support.”

But changes could be coming.

Santa Clara Unified recently passed resolutions affirming that its schools are safe places for all students.

“We will be reviewing our policies and our procedures and that includes our enrollment forms,” Dericco said.

The district says it’s trying to determine if its data collection in the area of immigration is still needed.

More from Len Ramirez
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