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Protocol on Sharing Student Information with Law Enforcement and Outside Agencies in Letter to Staff
On Thursday, February 1, 2018, Superintendent Tommy Chang issued the following letter to Boston Public Schools staff to outline what type of information BPS shares and does not share with law enforcement and outside agencies:
February 1, 2018
Dear Boston Public Schools Staff:
Our students, parents, and guardians who are immigrants should always feel welcomed and supported in the Boston Public Schools (BPS). Thus, it is incumbent upon us, in BPS and the City of Boston, to do whatever we legally can to protect immigrant students while in school.
Recently, some have asked what types of information BPS shares with law enforcement when requests are made. I would like this memo to provide clarity about what type of information is and is not shared with outside agencies.
First, as a matter of policy, neither BPS nor Boston School Police request or obtain the immigration statuses of students or families, nor do schools or the district keep records detailing anyone’s immigration status. Second, BPS does not provide law enforcement agencies or any external agencies with any copies of student records, which are protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA.)
Boston School Police, however, is a law enforcement agency that can share information, including incident reports, with the Boston Police Department (BPD). Police incident reports are not considered student records. School Police may share incident reports with other law enforcement agencies in order to protect and preserve the safety of our communities. While School Police may share information with BPD in some cases, it is not sharing information on a student’s immigration status; and School Police officers will never ask a student for his or her immigration status.
As part of our common practice to consistently review procedures to ensure all students are treated equitably, School Police are looking at its current internal reporting practices to make sure no students are being characterized inappropriately. School Police and BPS are committed to making sure all students, regardless of their background, feel safe, welcomed and supported in school. BPS is actively examining ways to eliminate the “school-to-prison pipeline” by looking at a variety of factors, including refraining from using characterizations that could unfairly criminalize students.
Separately, amid heightened concerns around immigration enforcement in the past year, BPS has worked with the Boston Police Department and community partners to develop detailed protocols on how school and district leaders are to comply with requests from law enforcement should they seek information on students, or are attempting to detain a student. This protocol, “Superintendent Circular SUP-08: Educational Access for All,” the full text of which is available on the BPS website, states the following:
- BPS does not and will not require a student or parent to provide information regarding their immigration or citizenship status.
- BPS does not share student information with third parties, including law enforcement, unless required by or authorized under the law (such as FERPA).
- BPS has established an internal protocol for all district employees to follow as it relates to access to law enforcement, and specifically immigration officials, to schools. For example, if school staff is confronted with a warrant, subpoena, or court order, law enforcement officers should be directed to the BPS Office of Legal Advisor.
- BPS has, and will continue to provide mandatory training and additional resources, if needed, for its existing crisis and emergency response teams to help ensure the safety and well-being of our students who may be impacted by immigration enforcement actions.
While federal authorities say it is unlikely they will detain an undocumented student while in school, BPS is continuing to examine its protocols to ensure that as many precautions as necessary are taken.
Families, students, and educators can continue to receive updates and links to immigration resources at BPS: We Dream Together (bpswedreamtogether.org), a website maintained by the BPS Office of English Learners. You can find details on “Know Your Rights” workshops, family preparedness kits, and other helpful information.
I would like to thank all of you who work every day to promote an inclusive environment for all.
Tommy Chang, Ed.D.