A letter from Doug Bonney, Chief Counsel and Legal Director, was sent to Sara Goodman, the president of the SMSD board of education, in response to the ICE incident at Briarwood Elementary on April 19.
In the letter, Bonney stated the facts of the incident based off of his own investigation. He wrote that Briarwood was contacted after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained a 9-year-old boy’s mother and her baby. At the end of the school day, the boy was taken into state custody by the Prairie Village police. None of the boy’s emergency contacts, including his father, were contacted.
Bonney went on in the letter to express his views on changing SMSD policy.
“…it is likely that the district will again confront this situation in the near future. Thus, I believe it is essential for the district to conduct an investigation of the February 7 incident in order to learn from that incident,” Bonney said.
Bonney argues that the district needs to make three main changes in policy. First, it should require families to provide a list of emergency contacts and give permission for students to be released to those contacts if necessary. Second, school staff should contact parents first then emergency contacts second before releasing students to government officials. Finally, school staff need to take measures to prepare parents for situations like the recent incident.
“The current climate of fear among immigrants–both documented and undocumented–and in the wider school community requires a reassuring response from policymakers like members of the Shawnee Mission Board of Education,” Bonney wrote. “Failing to take action will hurt the district’s mission of providing high quality education to all of the students it serves.”