COLUMBUS — The December 2006 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid of a Grand Island meatpacking plant left 250 schoolkids with no home to return to that night.
Their parents were detained and many of the undocumented workers would eventually be deported in the aftermath of the ICE raid at the Swift & Company plant. ICE raided six Swift plants in the Midwest that day.
“The raid in Grand Island left a lot of homeless children,” Columbus Public Schools Superintendent Troy Loeffelholz told district board members before asking them to reaffirm the district’s commitment to creating a safe and supportive learning environment regardless of immigration status.
The board on Monday evening voted 5-0 to adopt the resolution.
“We’ve got two parents being deported this week,” said Loeffelholz, adding that CPS has students from 900 families with parents born outside the United States.
Harsh rhetoric during the 2016 election from President Donald Trump about deporting millions of people living in the country illegally and building a wall along the southern border has created anxiety among many CPS families.
“There’s a lot of fear out there about deportation,” Loeffelholz said. “We’ll do everything in our power to protect students and their families from deportation.”
The resolution adopted by the board Monday pledges:
• the district will continue to enforce its policies against bullying, intimidation and discrimination against any student, including those born outside the U.S. or for whom English is a second language.
• the district will continue to seek opportunities to increase and enhance programs and partnerships that support and assist all students, including immigrant students and families.
• CPS employees will continue to follow the policy for any enrolled or enrolling student not to ask about a student’s or parent’s immigration status.
• the district will support ICE’s policy of restricting enforcement actions around schools, and reminds school employees they shall not assist immigration enforcement efforts unless legally required and authorized to do so by the superintendent.
“We need to convey the message that this (school) is a safe place,” board member Mike Goos said. “School should be a welcoming environment. We’re here to educate young men and women.”
In other business, Kim Kwapnioski of the Columbus Public Schools Foundation announced the nominees for the 2017 Educator of the Year and Operations Employee of the Year awards that will be presented May 12 at the annual CPS Employee Banquet.
The four teachers nominated for the award, which includes a $1,000 cash prize for the winner and $500 for the runner-up, are Teresa Hausmann, Joni Ebel, Annie Sokol and Christina Nilson.
The four operations employees nominated for the award, which includes a $500 cash prize sponsored by Bob Markham (CHS Class of 1976) and his wife Chris, are Denene Owens, Traci Seim, Kandy Bos and Allen Rerucha.