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Christina school board rejects sanctuary protection for undocumented students

Delaware Public Media

The Christina Board of Education has rejected a measure that would have made its schools a safe space for undocumented students.


The measure would have required immigration agents to consult the district’s superintendent before removing a student from one of its schools. But it was struck down in a 4-3 vote Tuesday night. 


Board member Roy Polanksi voted against the measure, saying he doesn’t want to put teachers in a situation where they could be seen as obstructing justice.  


“I understand the spirit of it and I don’t disagree with the spirit of it. But it raised some serious legal issues. And I didn’t want to put our administrators, teachers or even the board in legal jeopardy,” he said. 


John Young, the board member who wrote the measure, said he understands his fellow board members’ objections, but he's disappointed by the vote.  


"I feel like the message that we’re trying to send is that ‘you’re safe here and we’ll protect you. But we sent the exact opposite message.” he said. 


School districts in California and Pennsylvania have passed similar measures, fearing President Trump will ramp up deportation orders in the coming years.


Young said the measure wouldn’t stop immigration officials from doing their jobs outside of Christina schools. But it would have allowed students to attend school without fear of deportation.



“The heart of the resolution in my mind was to reassure people we don’t create some kind of event where we’ve got agents in our schools with guns hunting down an immigrant,” said Young. 


He said he'll reintroduce the measure as a 'policy' in April. District policies are broader reaching than measures and undergo legal vetting before they're referred to a board vote. 


Young hopes the legal vetting will put Christina board member’s fears to rest.


But Pulanski remains skeptical the policy will hold up under federal scrutiny.


Final Vote:


Yes: John Young, Elizabeth Paige, Shirely Saffer


No: Fred Polaski, George Evans, Meg Mason, Harrie Ellen Minnehan

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