Santa Maria chapter stands up for immigrants' rights in schools
At a summit for the Santa Maria Bonita School District in April 2012, parents identified a major concern in their schools. The district had a policy that required parents to be fingerprinted to help with field trips or even volunteer on campus. Most of the parents were undocumented immigrants who were afraid to participate at school because of this requirement. Even the president of a school site council could not chaperone field trips. Teachers were forced to cancel field trips due to a shortage of parent volunteers, and when field trips did happen many parents worried about the high student to chaperone ratio.
The parents began a committee and held a series of house meetings in 2013 to reach out to other parents in the district. They connected with the Santa Maria Educators Association, bringing concerned teachers into the struggle for immigrants' rights in Santa Maria schools. Once they had built a large base of involved parents, they reached out to newly elected school board member John Hollinshead, who agreed to put the item on the agenda at a November school board meeting. Parents and teachers spoke out at the meeting about the need for schools that were inclusive of immigrant communities and encouraged parents to be involved in their children's education.
The school board and superintendent have agreed to repeal the policy and have drafted a new policy for parent involvement in schools without the barrier of a fingerprint for immigrant families. This policy is expected to be approved in January thanks to the hard work and commitment of Santa Maria CAUSE parent leaders.