DPS Boycotts Arizona, Bans Work-Related Travel
School District Forms Committee To Consider Other Measures
Last Updated: 1116 days ago
Denver Public Schools is taking a stand on the contentious immigration law in Arizona.The school district announced Thursday that it has banned all district-sponsored work-related travel to Arizona stemming from the states new identity-document law.Superintendent Tom Boasberg said that district employees are all legal, but officials don't want them to be subjected to potentially arbitrary, discriminatory stops or harassment."Our community is deeply outraged by the new Arizona law. I have heard clearly and passionately from our students, parents, teachers, principals and community members about their deep concern," Boasberg said."We fear that this new law will encourage racial profiling and subject individuals to arbitrary stops and harassment based on their ethnic or racial status. This violates our basic values of human dignity, of non descrimination and equal protection under the law," Boasberg said.Boasberg has formed an advisory committee to see if the district should respond with other measures. He also invited other school districts and public and private entities to join DPS in its ban.The law, signed by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday, takes effect this summer and is designed to crack down on illegal immigration.It requires local and state law enforcement officials to try to determine someone's immigration status if there is a "reasonable suspicion" that he or she is an illegal immigrant. Police could ask immigrants to provide documents proving legal presence. The law also makes it a state crime to be in the U.S. illegally.The law has raised questions about civil liberties.
Two DPS parents that 7NEWS interviewed said that they don't believe it's the school administration's job to get involved in political issues.But one parent, Antheiaus Conquest, said that somebody has to take a stance against the law and he's glad DPS did."I think there's a racial undercurrent there and that bothers me," Conquest said.The Denver school board couldn't be more behind this measure, said school board president Dr. Nate Easley."A lot of people are probably wondering why would we do this. We're an institution that's interested in helping kids become educated and become good citizens. This is a human rights issue," Easley said. "As an American, I'm offended that a state would take such actions and as an African American I'm especially offended because my ancestors had to deal with racial profiling ... In a district that's 80 percent minority, in a district that's 70 percent low-income, in a district that supports diversity, it's very important for us to take a stand.""We want to let Arizona know, let the federal government know and let Obama know that in Denver public schools, where 40 percent of our kids speak a language other than English at home, this is not an action that we can tolerate," Easley said.While prominent Republicans in Georgia, Nevada, Minnesota and Texas vow to copy the law, President Barack Obama has sharply criticized the law, and asked the Justice Department to examine if the Arizona law is constitutional."I understand people's frustrations about the border. If you've got hundreds of thousands of people coming in, not playing by the rules, that's a problem and the federal government has been abdicating on its responsibilities for a very long time on this issue. That's why I've called for comprehensive immigration reform and I want that to proceed and I want it to be done on a bipartisan basis," Obama said Wednesday. "What I think is a mistake is when we start having law enforcement officials empowered to stop people on the suspicion that they may be undocumented workers because that carries a great amount of risk that core values that we all care about are breached."Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, blasted Boasberg for the decision."Last year, just 52.7 percent of DPS high school students graduated on time, and over half of DPS students who do manage to go on to college end up having to take at least one remedial class," Penry said. "Instead of imposing politically-motivated travels bans, perhaps Mr. Boasberg ought to focus on improving a school system that fails far too many kids each and every day."It's unclear what the the financial impact of the DPS boycott will be.
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Superintendent Tom Boasberg says district employees are all legal, but officials don't want them to be subjected to potentially arbitrary, discriminatory stops or harassment.