The Broward County School Board took a stand Tuesday, voting unanimously to approve a resolution that declares schools to be protected spaces from immigration enforcement.
"We want our students to come to school, we want them to grow, think, be happy, and we want them to feel comfortable in our classrooms," said board member Robin Bartleman, who sponsored the item, the first of its kind in Florida. "We're gonna be a leader here."
Bartleman implored the board to support the resolution, and so did the public. A couple of dozen immigration activists, including parents and teachers among them, came to the school board's meeting Tuesday to voice their opinions.
"Because we're seeing this rhetoric of division and hatred and i just want to make sure our county stays safe for our children," said Maria Ramirez, who has a child in a Broward public school.
Ramirez says her mother was an undocumented immigrant who later became a legal resident. She says she remembers the fears of her childhood, going to school in Miami and wondering if her mom might be deported. Ramirez says children should not have to live with that kind of stress.
The resolution adopted by the board requires federal agents to have warrants if they are seeking information about students in school or at a school-related function, such as a sporting event.
Board member Donna Korn wondered if the board was overstepping its authority.
"We absolutely should have our schools as sensitive locations, i support that wholeheartedly, at the same time i don't believe we're empowered to go beyond what the law has already ruled on in a court of law," Korn said during the meeting.
However, Korn voted for the measure after amendments were made and the school board attorney assured the board the resolution fell within its scope of powers.
"To me, it's not so much the legality, it's the meaning behind accepting everybody, what this resolution does is it sent a message to all immigrant kids that all children have equal rights," said Renata Castro, an immigration attorney who has kids in Broward public schools.
The resolution also provides a framework for schools and families to make plans for students in case parents are deported.