School board reacts to immigration incident at school

The week before winter vacation, families and staff at Melrose Bridges Academy were stunned to learn that U.S. immigration officials had followed a mother into the East Oakland school and detained her for questioning.

The scene unfolded in front of the woman’s 6-year-old daughter.

In response to the incident, school board member Noel Gallo has proposed a resolution in support of immigrant students, regardless of their immigrant status. It’s on the agenda of Wednesday night’s meeting.

The resolution seems largely symbolic (as most resolutions are). Practically speaking, I’m not sure what impact the resolution will have on the way U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement does business — other than that it calls for staff to forward all requests for information to the district’s legal department. But OUSD spokesman, Troy Flint, said he believes this to be the first written policy that addresses the issue. 

How do you think schools should handle such situations, when they find themselves stuck in the middle?

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Doowhopper

    The schools should refuse to co-operate in any way with ICE.There was a Supreme Court decision in 1982,Plyer vs Doe,that affirmed the right of undocumented chilren to a public education.
    ICE,leave those kids alone!

  • Mr. G

    Schools should take the same approach to the immigration enforcement policies of the U.S. Government that Immigration and Customs Enforcement takes towards education.

    Would school officials consider a resolution on how local police should respond to crimes committed at schools?

    I’m not suggesting the two situations are perfectly analogous, and I promise I’m not trying to stir a debate on immigration, but we have enough problems when our federal, state, and local governments try to solve the problems they have jurisdiction over. It only gets worse when they start trying to do one another’s jobs. At best, it is a symbolic gesture that wastes scarce resources.

  • Sue

    “At best, it is a symbolic gesture that wastes scarce resources.”

    I’m not sure what was meant by this. I agree that it’s a symbolic gesture, but can you explain what resources you feel would be wasted by making that gesture?

  • Concerned Oakland Parent

    For children to be able to learn, they need to feel safe. A child cannot learn if they feel like their parents will be taken from them or they will be taken away by “police.” The goal of a school is to educate children. Therefore, a child should not have to be subject to anything that will interfere with learning. There is no reason that ICE could not have waited until the child was dropped off in the classroom.

    This is similar to a “bank” robber. The police often will wait until the “suspect” has left the institution before taking action. ICE, if they needed to “interview” the “suspect” should have waited until she left the institution – period. Not following protocol is unprofessional at the least and harmful to both the woman’s daughter and the other students at the school.

    The school has a responsibility to protect the child, as does ICE, as does the school board, as does the City of Oakland.

  • Sue

    Thank you, Concerned Oakland Parent. You’ve really helped me clarify my own thinking on this subject.

    My younger son, a 5th grader, is a very sensitive and empathic guy. If he’d been a witness to what happened at Melrose (thankfully, he doesn’t go there) he’d have been very upset. It would have impacted his whole school day. Depending on exactly what happened, I can easily picture him having a nightmare of his parents being taken away within a day or two of the incident.

    I’m sure there are many other students just as likely to be effected, and younger ones who would be even more vulnerable.

  • Mr. G

    I agree with you, concerned parent, that the job of a school is (in part) to “protect the child.” But that does not extend to the actions of a federal agency.

    I’m not in agreement with the handing of the situation by ICE, and I think it should have happened differently, but ultimately there is nothing the school board can do to change the handling of these situations in the future but exert its influence. And there are much better ways to do that.

    A phone call or a meeting between a local government representative and an ICE representative is the way the situation should be handled. Then put out a press release to communicate the results with the public.

    Passing a resolution is a political move that, perhaps, to some people, makes it look like the school board is taking action. To me, it look like the school board is focusing their time on meaningless gestures outside their official jurisdiction when there are many other problems directly within their jurisdiction that need fixing.

    It is the equivalent of a local board of supervisors passing a resolution to end the war or impeach Bush. It may make some people feel better, but it is a waste of time and taxpayer dollars (both scarce resources).

    Though local residents may share the sentiment that this was handled poorly and want action taken, surely they want action that will have a real impact on something other than the political futures of local politicians. Passing a resolution amounts to taunting. It is more likely to antagonize than to assuage. It’s adolescent political behavior and it serves no one.

  • John

    I want to applaud Noel Gallo for proposing this resolution! Its adoption by the board could well mark the beginning of a new era for the OUSD board, an era of new board resolutions absent any authority or responsibility to implement or enforce. Given the board’s history this could well be their wisest course of political action.

    If Noel Gallo and his board colleagues stay the new course they might one day get elected to state or national office, allowing them to make OUSD governance resolutions they wouldn’t be responsible or accountable for.

    I can’t wait to feel their passion, their energy, their STRENGTH!

  • FABA

    The U.S.Supreme Court in Plyer v. Doe forced the state of Texas to provide free public education for illegal alien children. However, the Court didn’t in any way impede the enforcement of Federal immigration law.

    State school officials don’t have the legal authority to stop federal law enforcement officers from entering school property if it necessary to fulfill their enforcement duty.

    Federal law supersides state and local law. States and school districts don’t have a problem accepting Federal dollars for education funding.

  • http://www.castrovalleyminutemen.com Steve Kemp


    I don’t think that one Illegal Alien child or Anchor baby for that matter should be allowed into our over-crowded school system. This is a terrible drain on our resources that we absolutely DO NOT need!

    If these Illegals weren’t occupying American Citizens seats in classrooms, our OWN kids would have a much better chance of turning out the way that they should – EDUCATED.

    Let the Illegals go back to their countries of origin, or to their parents countries of origin for educations and medical care. It’s not our responsibility to pay for them. I don’t want my tax dollars stolen from me and given to someone who should be arrested and deported – not coddled and kept!

    I’m fed up with this idiotic Liberal mentality that is rampant in California, and especially in the Bay Area. Liberals are sick individuals indeed.

    Steve Kemp
    Castro Valley Minutemen

  • Roger Strohmeyer

    By the posts I see here defending CRIMINAL ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS and their families I hereby declare Liberalism an *official* Mental Disorder.

    How can you favor the destruction of our country over the LAWS that rule it?

    I hope and pray to GOD that all Federal funds are CUT OFF to schools like yours that openly defy the LAW. Sounds to me like they need to start arresting the teachers, not the ILLEGALS.

  • John

    Hey Senor Strohmeyer: You parrot the rhetoric of Michael Savage (alias Michael Whiner) syndicated conservative talk show in competent and capable fashion. Although I’m not a psychotherapist it’s instructive to note that you’ve officially declared “liberalism a mental disorder.”

    P.S. I’m a fugitive teacher hiding in Mexico. Don’t rat me out dude. I don’t wanna get deported!

  • http://www.castrovalleyminutemen.com Steve Kemp

    Hey John:

    No matter what show Roger watches or listens to, right is still right, and wrong is still wrong.

    In case you haven’t heard, California is currently in a huge financial crisis and paying for Illegals should NOT be one of our responsibilities or expenses. I don’t want one cent of my hard earned tax dollars going to any border-crasher or their families who broke our laws to come here in the first place.

    I’m happy to hear that you listen to Michael Savage however – perhaps you will actually learn something that will HELP America instead of helping to DESTROY it.

    Steve Kemp
    Castro Valley Minutemen

    PS – your feeble attempt at humor is very immature.

  • Roger Strohmeyer

    Yes Mr. Illegallano in Mexico, you win a cookie. I’ll admit it was plagiarism at it’s finest. I’m positive Mr. Savage (AKA Mr. Weiner to you) would approve of my message 1000%. Since you’re obviously one of his 8 million+ weekly Liberal “closet” listeners, you could have done yourself a favor by now and read Mr. Savages NY Times best seller “Liberalism is a Mental Disorder” which throughly describes the breakdown of BORDERS, LANGUAGE, AND CULTURE starting with and in our SCHOOLS.

    I do not take marching orders from Mr. Savage and neither do I (or his listeners) agree with Mr. Savage on every issue, but when it comes to Illegal Immigration Mr. Savage is the only voice out there that tells is like is.

    As United States citizens, we simply cannot afford to sit on the sidelines and watch the further destruction of our country by a group of people that refuse to obey our laws.

    -Roger Strohmeyer

    (awaiting membership) NorthBayMintemen

  • Mr. G

    Steve and Roger,

    This is an education blog, not a politics blog. You’ll make little headway here.

    In addition, if you would take a step back, you might realize that your handling of this argument has done nothing to further your cause. You’ve only served as a sterling example for my position. Just like the Oakland School Board could have found a better outlet for its concerns and had more of an impact, so could have you, if you had been willing to change your tone and to find a more appropriate place for your rants. Instead you’re being antagonistic.

    Michael Savage gets paid to act like a pompous divisive ass, and so it is more acceptable for him to behave the way he does. Others who share his positions are better served by reasoned arguments than by inflammatory parodies of a combative talk show host.

    Oh, and Roger, you’re unlikely to become a member until you learn how to spell minutemen.

  • Roger Strohmeyer

    Mr. G,

    We’ve made plenty of headway letting you and your constituents know we’re NOT going stand by idly with out a fight. Period. Ever.

    And pointing out spelling errors is a nothing more than an extremely feeble attempt at trying make me look bad.

    We’ll be SEEING you!


  • jason

    The school bored needs to be charged with aiding and abetting criminal behavior. Not only are these people here illegally, but they are committing fraud and theft by posing as citizens and using the schools, and therefore tax dollars, that are meant for actual citizens.

    The school is neither above, nor exempt, from the law and they are promoting violating the law. It is a legal issue, regardless of the current political situation.

  • http://www.castrovalleyminutemen.com Steve Kemp

    Mr G:

    Politics have not be discussed here – only education. The Oakland School System is embedded within a Sanctuary City for Illegal Aliens and is acting in opposition to Federal law, and probably more importantly, common sense and the good of all American citizens.

    As a Country, especially in this day and age, we cannot afford to take in all the worlds poor – we just can’t. We must look to properly raising and educating our own children and looking after our own citizens before catering to the worlds underprivileged.

    My point, and probably Roger’s also, is to educate the American public that this is not a small problem, especially in California. The State is going broke and the infrastructure is falling apart, due in large part to too many people flooding in here and draining all of our social services.

    We’ve given the Liberal approach 40 years to succeed and it just isn’t working. Political correctness, the internet, television, spending and many other things are just plain “out of control”. Common sense must prevail.

    We must correct our Nations problems before our problems correct us. We need to educate our own children so that they can take control in the future. This is the only way that America will survive…

    Steve Kemp
    Castro Valley Minutemen

  • http://lonewacko.com/ TLB

    Fun fact: the case mentioned in the first comment was argued before the SC by a lawyer who has several links to the Mexican government. Just a few days ago he sent a letter to Chertoff trying to block the border fence in one area.

    While ICE might have handled the current situation in a hamfisted manner, there’s also the possibility that those who support illegal activity out of racial solidarity or far-left reasons are overplaying the incident. There’s also the possibility that ICE did this in a hamfisted way in order to enrage supporters of illegal activity, knowing that they’d complain and help reduce future enforcement. Chertoff has hinted to something like that in the past, and – just like the far-left and racial demagogues – Bush supports illegal activity.



  • hills parent

    Mr. Kemp:

    I want everyone to know that although Mr. Kemp identifies himself as a Castro Valley Minuteman that this is not the overall feeling of Castro Valley residents.

  • John

    I hate to interrupt the passionate rhetoric with some unwanted facts Bob, Steve, & Roger – but All children in the United States (presently) have a LEGALLY MANDATED right to a free public school education in the school district in which they live.

    “Immigrant” children are not legally required to have a green card, visa, passport, alien registration number, social security number, nor any other proof of citizenship or immigration status in order to register for school. It is ILLEGAL for a school OR SCHOOL BOARD to require them to have it. That’s the LAW as presently constituted. School boards and schools nationwide are required to abide by the law.

    BOB, STEVE & ROGER, if you want to change the law take a legislator out to lunch, as opposed to causing some of those who read your posts to lose their lunch.

    The board’s passing a resolution that is symbolic and NOT enforcable is, in my opinion, a waste of time and is nothing more than political grandstanding. It diverts attention away from the real issues facing the OUSD and creates time wasting controversy that draws in the likes of you three.

    Ironically a board “immigrant support resolution,” if passed, would have no more consequence for (illegal) “immigrant” students and their families than does your diabribe targeting those who can do nothing to help or hurt your cause.

    Perhaps you need to adjust your aim and polish your rhetoric, assuming you’re able to overcome whatever it is that accounts for your inability to think straight (i.e., The “SAVAGE nation”).

  • http://www.castrovalleyminutemen.com Steve Kemp


    Before change cames awareness.

    If it weren’t for people like us calling attention to this problem, it would continue on while the American Public sleeps, which is exactly how we got to this point. There’s no way I have the time or the means to ‘take a legislator out to lunch’ (most of them have been ‘out to lunch’ for decades anyway).

    It’s people like us across the Nation, and TV and radio personalities like Savage, Dobbs and Barbara Simpson sounding the alarm that killed the ‘Shamnasty Bill’ in June. We did it with our computers, telephones and faxes. But again, people have to know that there’s a problem, that it affects THEM and that they need to take action before it gets worse. That’s how ALL problems are solved.

    Our Country has been overtaken one step at a time by a number of special and business interests and that’s exactly how we must take it back – one step at a time.

    This is just one area that gets me, but there’s a host of others such as the falling dollar, the outsourcing of our our high skilled jobs and the demise of our manufacturing base. Probably a recession coming too. It’s ALL connected in one way or another and we must deal with it.

    I suppose that most Americans will simply sit back in their “Fat Dumb and Happy” way and just let it all happen because they are either “too busy to do anything”, “the politicians are all crooked” or “it’s too late anyway, so why bother to try?” justifications.

    Steve Kemp
    Castro Valley Minutemen