Dallas ISD anti-bullying policy could include immigration status

Image 1 of 2

Dallas ISD is considering changing its anti-bullying policy to now include immigration status.

Supporters say making undocumented students a protected class helps make school safe for every student. The policy change would be similar to the one spelled out in 2010 covering LGBTQ students.

Rafael McDonnell, with the Dallas Resource Center, urged the Dallas ISD school board on Thursday to consider the specific changes.

“When we adopted this policy back in 2010, immigration status wasn't on anybody's radar and given the world that we live in today, it certainly is,” McDonnell said.

McDonnell says the district reached out to the Resource Center as it began to craft the new district policy, which aims to be more in line with the new state policy against cyberbullying.

In 2010, DISD was the first in the state to adopt a comprehensive anti-bullying policy covering LBGTQ students. That policy was later adopted word for word, says McDonnell, by two other local districts.

Now he hopes DISD will go a step further by including immigration status.

“In 2010, that was before DACA. We know that students are bullied because they may be undocumented, they may not be undocumented, they may be citizens and perhaps because of the color of their skin or their last name, they are facing bullying -- so we needed to have that category in addition to the other categories that we already have,” McDonnell said.

Hexter Elementary parent Maria Mongelli says the policy change would be helpful, but also sees other priorities.

“What I think the schools really need to worry about is children bullying other children in the regular kind of way, like you are ugly, you are stupid, in that sense. That's been going on a lot,” Mongelli said.

Another parent, Samantha Robbins, said children shouldn’t be picked on because of where they are from.

“Imagine how a child feels, when someone points that out, oh you are not from here. What you are doing to them, it's just not right,” Robbins said.

McDonnell says leaving immigration status out of the new policy puts some children in harm’s way.

“Enumeration is really important. Studies have shown that policies that were enumerated, policies that actually showed the groups, that are protected, do better,” McDonnell said.

No one spoke against including immigration status in the new policy at Thursday’s meeting. Board members will vote on the new language at the end of May.