A Note From the Superintendent
February 19, 2017
Dear Federal Way Public Schools Parents and Guardians,
In recent weeks, I have fielded questions from our scholars, their families and the larger community about the general sense of unease that exists within some of our communities in Federal Way.
Last November, the Federal Way Public Schools’ Board of Directors was one of the first school boards to pass a resolution outlining our commitment to being an inclusive district where ALL families feel welcome, safe and valued regardless of language, race, ethnicity, socioeconomics or any other exceptionality (see the attached resolution). In short, we want our scholars to feel that our schools are safe havens.
To that end, I would like to share some important information with each of you as it relates to this issue of concern.
The most relevant U.S. Supreme Court case is Plyler v. Doe, from 1982. In Plyler, the Court ruled that undocumented students have the same right to attend public schools as U.S. citizens and permanent residents. As a result of the ruling, public schools:
- May not deny admission to a student during initial enrollment or at any other time on the basis of immigration status.
- May not treat a student differently to determine residency.
- May not engage in any practices that might have a “chilling effect” on school enrollment.
- May not require students or parents to disclose or document their immigration status, including Social Security numbers.
- May not make inquiries of students or parents that may expose their undocumented status. Examples include asking for a student’s status when enrolling the student as an English learner or when enrolling for free or reduced-price meals.
Some information — such as a student’s race, ethnicity, and address (if the student is not homeless) — is collected. But the student’s personal information cannot be disclosed to the public, nor can it be used to deny enrollment.
In addition to federal law, Washington state law contains a chapter (Revised Code of Washington 28A.642), which prohibits discrimination, including discrimination based on national origin.
Our state’s public education system exists to help our students learn. Federal Way Public Schools does not function, nor will it function, as an arm of federal immigration services. Federal Way Public Schools is committed to our state’s constitutional requirement that students are to be educated, “without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.”
Our district and this community are committed to the success of our scholars. As your superintendent, and a leader committed to this community, I will continue to lead for high expectations and high support for our students, staff, and families on behalf of our approximately 23,000 student-scholars.
Tammy Campbell, Ed.D.