FORT WORTH, Texas - The Fort Worth ISD School Board voted unanimously to designate all districts as ‘welcoming and safe’ to students of all backgrounds.
The district said it has heard from students and parents concerned about President Donald Trump's immigration enforcement plans. During Tuesday night’s board meeting, they made it clear everyone is welcome.
Fort Worth now joins Dallas, Austin and Galveston school districts in passing similar safe school resolutions. Each district is hoping to calm fears among immigrant families over changing policies in Washington.
The resolution in part reads, "Whereas we want our community to feel that schools and classrooms are safe welcoming and inclusive places for all students and all families regardless of their immigration status.”
School Board Member Ashley Pas introduced the resolution, noting that federal Immigration policy continues to make schools ‘sensitive zones’ and raid free.
"This is not a sanctuary school policy,” she said. “There is no such thing as a sanctuary school because, as I mentioned earlier, schools are already safe. They are already off limits."
The safe school resolution declares the district "welcoming and safe" for all students regardless of the immigration status.
The resolution prompted angry political debate on social media with Tarrant County Republicans being urged to turn out and oppose it.
"You have a governor and a mayor that says we have laws that we have to follow. Now, we have an independent school district that says regardless of immigration status all children are welcome here,” said Zeb Pent with Stand for Fort Worth. “I think it's in violation of the law."
But every speaker who addressed the board on the subject cheered the effort to ease fears among immigrant families.
"There is no fence around educating young minds,” said Anita Quinones, a retired educator. “We are living through some challenging times in many of our communities. And as educators, we must continue to provide a safe harbor for all children."
The resolution comes on the heels of immigration protests that kept children out of school. Earlier this month, students in Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington walked out.
During the ‘Day Without Immigrants" event, some 15,000 Fort Worth students were absent, nearly 13 percent of its entire enrollment. It cost the district more than $428,000 in lost revenue.
"Even if you don't care about the children, which is why we are all here. If you look at the money, we know this is the right thing to do,” said board trustee Tobi Jackson.
The executive director of the Tarrant County Democratic Party said he supports the measure.