DeKalb County School District Supt. Stephen Green said the school district will remain welcoming of students from nearly 200 countries enrolled in the system following President Donald Trump’s temporary travel ban on immigrants and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim nations.
“We are hearing a lot of conversation right now … some of it extreme … about how residents originally from outside our country should be treated. As your leader, I want to make sure all our principals and teachers clearly understand the position of the DeKalb County School District on this issue,” Green said in the statement released Monday.
Numerous protests broke out at airports across the country, including at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, following Trump’s signing of an executive order late Jan. 27 that suspended all refugee admissions for 120 days and blocked citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — from entering the United States for 90 days. Chaos also erupted as those with green cards and those with visas were detained.
“We have 102,000 students here. They come from more than 180 countries, and they speak 140 languages. We value them, we love them, and we respect what their presence here says about the goodness and generosity of America. Our diversity is our strength,” Green said.
“I want to assure each of our students that we have a deep and full commitment to be culturally responsive to them. We strongly support the diversity of our school system, and we greatly value our role in supporting our immigrant population through the benefits of quality education. This is a core belief.
“Our schools will be safe places for learning and teaching. In accordance with our Board of Education policies, we will not tolerate any form of bullying or discrimination … on or off district property … that interferes with learning or the rights of others.
“Imagine how hard it is to come to a new country and start life over without familiar ties to family, culture, or language. DeKalb schools give an anchor to our new citizens. Our role as school leaders is to help learning in our schools to become love … love for a new place, for our way of life and, ultimately, for one another,” he said.
Two teachers at Cross Keys High School resigned last year after students and teachers alleged they used deportation threats against students in the days following Trump’s election. Cross Keys High School is made up of mostly Latino students.