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Laura Seitz, Deseret News, File

Park City board adopts safe schools resolution in wake of DACA announcement

By Marjorie Cortez  |  Posted Sep 11th, 2017 @ 11:03pm


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PARK CITY — Reacting to last week's announcement that the Trump administration will rescind protections for qualifying immigrant youths, the Park City Board of Education on Monday adopted a safe schools resolution to affirm the district's commitment to all students.

The resolution outlines how the Park City School District will protect students’ confidential information and ensure its learning environments will not be disrupted by immigration enforcement visits.

Meanwhile, Intermountain Healthcare announced Monday plans to help its employees affected by the immigration changes.

Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration will rescind protections extended under the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Board President Julie Eihausen said the resolution was passed because "we felt it was very important to show support for our students. Their immigration status is not something that the school district concerns itself with."

Although located in a resort community, Park City School District has a diverse student body that includes students who could be affected by rolling back DACA protections against deportation and provisions that allow them to work legally. The protections will be phased out within six months, according to Sessions.

On Friday, Superintendent Ember Conley sent a letter to parents, students and staff in English and Spanish that said, in part, "Park City School District is strengthened by our diversity. All our students work hard to improve themselves and enrich our schools and community."

"The district and the board of education reaffirm their commitment to provide an equal opportunity for all students to attend and enjoy opportunities and benefits available in our schools, regardless of ethnicity, race, religion, national origin, political party, sexual orientation, gender or immigration status, and to be free from harassment and intimidation."

The letter goes on to explain that the school district remains committed to the protection of student privacy and that it will "continue its practice to not collect or maintain any information about our students’ immigration status."

It continues: "We value the support of our educators and staff as they have conversations with students about current events and reassuring them that our schools will always be a safe and welcoming place. We are doing additional training for all staff this year to help guide appropriate conversations with students."

Eihausen said the board "really wanted to show support to our community and not have the kids or the parents concerned that something was going to happen either on the way to school, at school, during a school activity, what have you."

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When children worry about immigration policies, "it makes it very difficult to learn," she said.

"The atmosphere in your home makes a difference whether or not you can focus on school. When you've got a high level of concern, it makes it very difficult for the kids to focus. As a district, we wanted to give them the peace of mind that we are here to educate. That's what our job is," Eihausen said.

Intermountain takes steps

Intermountain Healthcare said about 150 of its employees are DACA participants and that the organization's leaders "have committed to support them and help them to file the paperwork required for them to continue to legally live and work in the U.S."

“These caregivers are making a tremendous contribution and a positive difference in the lives of Utahns,” Dr. Marc Harrison, CEO of Intermountain Healthcare, said in a statement Monday. “We stand behind them and will fully support them as they seek to extend their DACA permits.”

Affected employees include "nurses, medical aides, and food service and maintenance workers," according to the organization.

No new applicants may currently sign up for the federal program, but those who were eligible for renewing their protected status by March 5 may seek renewal by Oct. 5, according to Sessions' announcement. Many in Utah last week called on the state's congressional delegation to help enact immigration reform legislation that would provide similar protections.

Harrison echoed that hope Monday.

“The leadership of Intermountain Healthcare supports a lasting, long-term solution to immigration policies that allows individuals currently covered by DACA permits to be able to continue to legally live and work in the U.S.,” he said.

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