The LAUSD Board votes Tuesday on a resolution condemning President Donald Trump’s “inhumane and irresponsible” separation of immigrant children from their parents and calling on the district to help reunite families and provide mental healthcare and potentially legal help to any forcibly separated children attending LAUSD schools.
“What we are seeing is barbaric,” said Board President Monica Garcia (BD2), who is co-sponsoring the “Putting Kids First Means Keeping Families Together” resolution with Vice President Nick Melvoin (BD4) and Board Member Kelly Gonez (BD6). “Our country is better than what we see in this moment in time…The immigration experience is a central identity element for many of our employees and families. We have a responsibility to speak out to demand an end to this trauma.”
Speak UP, which organized and co-sponsored the “Keep Families Together: Rally and Toy Drive” protest against Trump’s family separation policies at the Federal Building in Westwood last month, strongly supports the resolution. Speak UP parent leaders Annie Hall and Gloria Rodriguez spoke at the rally, as did Melvoin.
“We’ll be judged by how we treat the most vulnerable among us, by how we treat our children. And let me be clear: These are all our children,” Melvoin told the crowd gathered at the Westwood rally. Two members of Melvoin’s staff also recently traveled to Washington, D.C. and risked arrest during peaceful acts of civil disobedience protesting family separations.
Tuesday’s resolution vote takes place on the same day that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California has ordered Trump to reunite the youngest children under age 5 with their parents – a deadline the Trump administration has said it is unable to meet for nearly half the children because it has lost track of many parents, including some the administration deported without their children.
While the federal government has shared very little information with LAUSD about the children it has separated from their parents and how many might be attending LAUSD schools, the resolution directs the Student Health and Human Services division “to seek out and ensure that any student identified as having suffered forcible family separation receives necessary health and mental health services” and to address the “emotional, mental, and physical trauma caused by forcible separation policies.”
The office of Foster Youth will also create a plan to identify LAUSD youth placed in foster homes that were forcibly separated from their parents and will make a concerted effort to help reunite them with their families “until every possible avenue for doing so is exhausted.”
Finally, the resolution directs the district’s chief lobbyist to advocate for a permanent end to immigrant family separation policies and for quick reunification of separated families, as well as LAUSD’s lawyers to investigate the creation of a program to provide free legal services to any district families who have suffered from forcible separation.
"The goal is to condemn this [family separation] in the strongest of terms, but also for children in our district, to do everything in our power to reunite these families,” Melvoin told Speak UP.
Also on the agenda is a proposal from Board Members George McKenna (BD1) and Scott Schmerelson (BD3) to place a parcel tax on the November ballot to close LAUSD’s projected budget deficit looming in 2020. LAUSD’s own internal polling, however, shows that a parcel tax large enough to close the deficit has scant chance of passing this November by the two-thirds needed and would likely cost LAUSD $6 million that it cannot recoup.
LAUSD polled on the issue in both February and June, and in both instances, LAUSD found “there is not sufficient support in November 2018 for a parcel tax to eliminate the projected 2020 budget deficit,” and only 20-25 percent of voters believe LAUSD is doing an excellent job.
LAUSD has been unable to pass a parcel tax since 1997. During the height of the recession and financial crisis in 2010, LAUSD attempted to pass a parcel tax one-fifth the size of the one now being proposed, and while LAUSD’s polling showed public support at 63 percent, it failed to win approval after just 53 percent of voters supported it. Voters in Schmerelson’s district had the highest rate of opposition, with only 39 percent approving and 61 percent opposing.