(OREGON LIVE) – As families were preparing for another typical school day earlier this month, the father of one of our students was doing the same, loading his 11-year-old daughter into the car to drive her to class. But his day turned out far differently from the other families’. He was surrounded by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and put under arrest as his children and wife watched. I’ve reviewed video footage of this incident taken by a family member and it is traumatic: a daughter sobbing as her father is surrounded by armed agents and led away in handcuffs. The scene still plays vividly in my mind as I consider the devastating impacts – on this student and her family, their school community and neighbors. And it causes me to reflect on my own responsibilities as the leader of Portland Public Schools.
As superintendent, my most important role is to keep our students safe. I know that students learn best when they feel secure and supported, physically as well as socially and emotionally. And I believe deeply that every student deserves a place to call home as well as a safe and welcoming school and community environment. Whenever this sense of safety and security is disrupted, it is the student who suffers.