EXCLUSIVE: Schools Vow to Protect Students’ ‘Emotional Safety’ After Trump’s Executive Orders

ashley.rae | February 7, 2017
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Parents of students enrolled in the 12 schools in the Denver School of Science and Technology Public Schools system received letters explaining how school administrators are helping the community cope with President Donald Trump’s executive actions. At least two of the letters talk about looking out for the “emotional safety” of students and claim administrators will protect students from “harassment, deportation, intimidation, and discrimination.”

In the “Immigration Letter to Parents” posted on the DSST Stapleton High School website, which is available in both English and Spanish, School Director Jeffrey Desserich wrote, “President Trump’s recent actions have left many members of our community with anxiety, fear, and doubt.”

Desserich noted, however, the school is committed to “do everything in our power to protect all members of our school community from harassment, deportation, intimidation, and discrimination”:

President Trump’s recent actions have left many members of our community with anxiety, fear and doubt. We want to assure you that DSST will do everything in our power to protect all members of our school community from harassment, deportation, intimidation and discrimination.  We remain committed to working together to build a society where everyone is treated with dignity and respect and human rights are upheld.  Now, as always, our DSST mission remains urgent.

We will continue to strive to provide a welcoming, safe and inclusive learning environment. We will also do everything we can to help your children to pursue their dreams, even after they graduate from our schools.

A letter obtained by MRCTV was sent home to DSST Stapleton Middle School parents and was signed by Dean Eva Rodrigues and School Director in Training Libby Brien.

Unlike the letter from Desserich that claims Trump has filled people with “anxiety, fear, and doubt,” the letter from Rodrigues and Brien claims Trump has made people experience “anxiety, fear, and anger.”

The letter to parents of students at Stapleton Middle School adds that Trump’s executive orders have “inspired fear” and “weighed heavily on many in our community”:

We will support and stand in solidarity with those of you who are directly impacted. It is only through our collective power that we will succeed in advancing the kind of society we need-- a society where everyone is treated with dignity and respect and human rights are upheld.

Now, more than ever, our DSST mission is urgent. These recent actions have inspired fear that has weighed heavily on many in our community. We will continue to strive to provide a welcoming, safe and inclusive learning environment. We will also do everything we can to help your children pursue their dreams, even after they graduate from our schools.

Both of the letters include a paragraph about school administrators providing resources to look out for the “emotional safety” of students as a result of Trump’s executive orders:

As always, we are committed to the emotional safety of our students. We will be compiling resources that will be available at our school. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for support.

The letters instructs parents to contact DSST’s Manager of Advocacy, Monica Acosta, with any questions.

Heather Lamm, the Director of Communications for DSST, told MRCTV all of the 12 schools within the DSST system received similar letters, but the content of the letters were at the discretion of the individual school directors.

Lamm verified the content of the Stapleton Middle School letter to MRCTV, explaining that the emotional support resources available for students were on the DSST website.

The website for DSST Public Schools provides “Community and Legal Resources for Families.” The guide, which spans 10 pages, provides links to “general resources,” ways to “know your rights,” “emergency preparedness” resources, “hotlines,” and “local community organization providing legal support.”

The guide includes contact information from organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the Council on Islamic Relations, iAmerica, United We Dream, and even immigration organizations like MiCasa that offer pro-bono legal services.

According to U.S. News’ rankings, DSST: Stapleton High School is the third best high school in Colorado.

Stapleton Middle School, according to its main page, is 35 percent Hispanic, while Stapleton High School is 36 percent Hispanic.

DSST Public Schools is a STEM-oriented charter school system as part of the Denver Public Schools system. 

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