SMSD passes new immigration policy to minimize traumatic effects on children

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PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. -- A local school district is changing the way it handles students with immigration issues, and the new policy passed Monday night is meant to prevent students from being traumatized by federal agents.

The new policy stems from an incident that occurred at Briarwood Elementary back in February.

According to a letter the ACLU sent to the Shawnee Mission School Board, immigration officials looking for a Prairie Village man learned he had a nine-year-old son at the elementary school.

They asked police to go to the school to get the boy for them. The ACLU says the school made no attempt to contact the boy’s parents or emergency contacts, and his classmates saw police put him into a squad car, causing this boy a lot of trauma.

Because of this, the school decided to craft a new student’s rights policy.

The head of SMSD security met with leaders of El Centro and looked at other school district’s policies to create their own.

It states that, “…some circumstances require that the child be placed into the custody of either state, local or district police. Should this occur, all efforts must be taken to minimize any traumatic effects on the child.”

The new policy requires three things:
School officials will never ask a student about his or her immigration status, or provide that information to anyone else.
If Immigration Officials want to detain a student, they must first contact the superintendent and provide written documentation or a court order.
And if that happens, the school must contact the kid’s parents and emergency contacts to tell them the situation.

Shawnee Mission School District Police Chief John Douglas said from now on, any law enforcement agency wanting to take a student into custody must go through his office, so they can figure out the best way to do it without causing too much trauma to the student.

"The only people who can take you into protective custody in what is paramount to an emergency basis is a police officer. So when you have a police car come and taking a small child someplace, it can be a scary event," Douglas said.