Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Should TUSD Educate Children at the Detention Facility in Tucson?

Posted By on Tue, Jul 24, 2018 at 12:08 PM

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An agenda item on TUSD's Tuesday night board meeting asks the question, Should TUSD provide education for the children living at a federal detention facility located in the district?

The agenda item "direct(s) staff to research what authority and responsibility our district has to provide educational support to school aged children held in federal detention at the Southwest Key Program Facility."

The building is located at 1601 N. Oracle Road between Grant and Speedway. The children are school aged. School districts are required to educate children within their boundaries without regard to their immigration status. Though staff say they are educating the students, the facility isn't affiliated with an educational institution, and staff members have been vague about what the "education" entails.

Does TUSD have the responsibility to seek out children in its district? Probably not. But these children have no parents or guardians to enroll them in school, and the Feds aren't interested in making a connection with a local educational institution. That makes this situation unique.

By raising the question, TUSD is spotlighting yet another issue which arises when children are detained by the federal government for an extended period. Some of them were separated from their parents by the Trump administration against the parents' wills. Others arrived in the U.S. unaccompanied. As children, all of them deserve the most comprehensive care and attention we can give them.

If you want more information, Hank Stephenson wrote a detailed article about the TUSD agenda item in the Friday Star. The Weekly's Danyelle Khmara wrote about a visit to the Southwest Key facility by 16 state legislators to the facility in the last issue. 

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