Student group presents SRO policy proposal to Re-1 board
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – A student immigrant rights group was before the new-look Roaring Fork District Re-1 school board Wednesday, again requesting that the board consider a policy prohibiting school resource police officers from working with federal immigration enforcement agents.
And, again, the group was asked to do more homework before the board will agree to look at the proposal.
Specifically, members of the group Association of Youth United in Action (AJUA in Spanish) were requested to contact police chiefs from Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt to get their input on the issue.
“To implement this without input from the affected law enforcement agencies is inappropriate,” school board member Richard Stettner said.
Added board member Bob Johnson, “We want to collaborate with you on this, but it’s premature” until the police agencies can weigh in.
AJUA spokesman Alex Alvarado, a Roaring Fork High School graduate and current Colorado Mountain College student, was joined at the Wednesday school board meeting by members Sheija Binshaban, a senior at RFHS, and Anahi Araiza, a senior at Basalt High School.
The students reminded the new school board members who were sworn in after being elected last week, Daniel Biggs, Matthew Hamilton and Terry Lott Richardson, that part of their campaign message was to preserve an “environment of safety and dialogue” in the school district.
“I appreciate what you’re saying, and I believe we can have a positive outcome,” Biggs told the students. “But we have to have all the stakeholders in the room talking about it, and we’re only one of those stakeholders.”
AJUA, a member of the larger Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, assert that collaboration between local police, specifically officers working as school resource officers (SROs) in concert with ICE’s inter-agency Operation Community Shield anti-gang task force, has crossed the line into immigration enforcement.
Their proposed policy would ensure that officers who have been cross-designated in any capacity with ICE not be permitted to work as SROs until at least five years have passed.
The school district financially supports the SRO programs in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt. However, the officers work for the local police departments and are not employees of the school district.
The groups’ policy proposal states: “[Re-1] has the responsibility to protect the safety and welfare of all students, regardless of immigration status … [and] shall provide reassurance that it will protect the confidentiality and safety of all students and their families.
“The school district therefore will work actively to avoid situations that would chill participation by or cause discomfort for children in immigrant families,” the proposal reads.
Except in emergencies, such as fires, bomb threats, terrorist activity, or the active pursuit of a suspect on school grounds, any police officer who has worked with ICE should not be allowed on school grounds, according to the recommended proposal.
Area police chiefs, in a joint press conference last month, defended the SRO’s collaboration with ICE through the anti-gang task force, and said immigration enforcement is not a focus of that collaboration.
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