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School board approves safe haven resolution

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At a school board meeting on Dec. 7, the Roaring Fork School District Board of Directors unanimously approved a resolution regarding the board’s commitment to ensure a safe haven for all students. The board was responding to local community concerns and incidents across the country which, the resolution states, have been “motivated by racism and hatred.”

Only one person, a Glenwood Springs High School student, provided public comment on the resolution, stating, “I don’t think it’s right that we should create a safe zone for illegal immigrants. It’s a crime that they came here in the first place. To advertise programs for them such as DACA … that would help them instead of helping tax-paying citizens. … we should make decisions based on the common good for all the students instead for the illegal immigrants.”

Board Member Matt Hamilton responded ”I appreciate the student’s comments.”

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He continued, “I would also say … no matter where you stand on the political spectrum, we’re all human beings and no one deserves to be treated the way some people are being treated, especially 11 and 12 year olds … We have an obligation to treat every student in this district equally and fairly.”

Board Member Shane Larson raised some concerns about what the phrase “safe haven” really means. He questioned what the resolution implied in terms of how school personnel would respond if, for example, authorities showed up with a subpoena.

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Dave Smith, executive director of the district’s Pre-Collegiate Program and one of the staff members who helped to craft the resolution, clarified, “The Supreme Court says that the school district has an obligation not to ask citizen status of students ….   But (this proposed resolution) does not to go so far as to say that the school is a ‘sanctuary’ (from the law) …  . If there’s a subpoena, the rule of law governs.”

Board President Mary Elizabeth Geiger made an amendment to the resolution to add the phrase “and required” in the statement, “We will continue to take any and all actions authorized and required by law and our policies to provide equal opportunities and safe learning spaces for all of our students.”

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Published in The Sopris Sun on December 8, 2016.

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