Students who may be at risk of deportation, could one day find safe haven in New Westminster schools.
The district took the first step towards adopting a sanctuary school policy at its education policy and planning committee meeting last week. The policy would ensure students, regardless of immigration status, have a safe and welcoming environment to learn without fear of being deported or detained.
“We have a significant obligation to children in our community that, for one reason or another, don’t feel comfortable around enrolling and accessing those services,” trustee Casey Cook told the Record.
Cook has crafted a motion that recommends establishing a committee to look at creating a sanctuary school policy for the district.
“We recognize that those children have rights, and they’re in our community, and whatever differences may exist with parents, those children should not be deprived of an education,” he said.
Cook also wants the district to examine its existing policies to ensure that there aren’t “unintended consequences” if a sanctuary school policy is adopted.
“What I want to make sure is, before we go down a road, we know if there are other obstacles within any other regulatory bodies to make sure what we do is correct,” he added.
The B.C. Teachers’ Federation drafted a sanctuary school policy proposal in 2014, however, school districts across the province have yet to adopt the policy. (In Canada, Toronto was the first school district to adopt its own policy regarding access for non-status students.)
Cook said it’s possible the New West school district will use parts of the BCTF’s proposed policy for sanctuary schools in its own policy, but couldn’t talk specifics because the idea is still in its infancy.
Trustees will vote on Cook’s motion to establish a committee to consider the creation of a sanctuary school policy at the next board meeting on March 29 at 7:30 p.m.