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‘You have scared children’: LAUSD board president sends message to Trump at news conference and tells students schools are safe

Sarah Favot | November 10, 2016

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LAUSD school board President Steve Zimmer speaks at a news conference Thursday.

LAUSD school board President Steve Zimmer at a news conference Thursday.


Following two nights of protests as well as student walkouts in Los Angeles and around California in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election, LA Unified school board President Steve Zimmer joined other leaders in calling for unity Thursday and told students their schools were safe.

“We, like the LAPD, are not cooperating and will not cooperate with immigration services who might want to interview or work with students who are at a school site,” he said at a news conference at City Hall. “Your schools are safe. Your schools are secure. We need you to go to school. If you are concerned and you are afraid, please tell someone.”

An LAUSD spokeswoman said overall attendance is not down in the wake of the election, and there had been “no serious incidents of bullying.” Around 2:30 p.m. one parent reported about 50 to 70 students marching out of Hollywood High School, protesting and stopping traffic at Hollywood Avenue and Sunset Boulevard.

Zimmer said he understood that students want to demonstrate their First Amendment rights through protests, but he asked that they cooperate with school leaders to organize demonstrations. He said if students choose to take to the streets, school leaders will work to keep students safe.

“We also say to you that the best way to repudiate the hate that was directed at you during this campaign is to also march towards that graduation stage and to march towards your rightful place in the university system of this state,” he said.

• Today: Social media erupts with disturbing accounts of Trump-inspired bullying

• Read more: Dealing with frightened kids the day after the election: How one school got through the day

Zimmer encouraged parents to talk to their children about their fears. He said he and Superintendent Michelle King spent the day yesterday in schools talking to students.

He also spoke directly to the president-elect.

“Sir, the words that you used and the rhetoric that was employed during this campaign has scared our children, as a father, I want you to know as a father that you have scared children in our community.”

About 74 percent of LAUSD students are Latino, and an estimated 10 percent of LA’s population is undocumented.

Zimmer told Trump one way he could reassure children is to tell those who qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that they are safe and their status is secure.

Zimmer said that students’ concerns reminded him of 1994 when Californians passed Prop. 187 that initially prohibited undocumented residents from using non-emergency tax-supported services like public education, but the law was found unconstitutional.

In February, the school board declared that LA Unified schools were “safe zones,” meaning  law enforcement agents looking to deport those without documentation are not allowed into any of its 1,274 schools without a review process.

Zimmer was joined by LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis, LA City Councilman Gil Cedillo, members of CHIRLA, LAPD officials and others at the morning news conference.

Zimmer also attended an afternoon news conference with LA Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Garcetti praised young people for demonstrating their First Amendment rights. He called the protests “overwhelmingly lawful,” saying “99 percent” were peaceful.

The LA Times reported 28 people were arrested overnight when hundreds of protestors entered the 101 Freeway on foot in downtown Los Angeles. Photos appeared on social media of buildings and vehicles tagged with anti-Trump sentiments.

Zimmer said the students who walked out of classes will face some disciplinary action because there are consequences whenever a student has an unexcused absence.

“They will not be devastating or monumental to anyone’s graduation trajectory, but certainly we expect that’s what will happen in schools,” he said.

He said he and King are less worried about disciplining students for walking out and more concerned about keeping students safe. He said he encourages students to own up to the consequences if they feel strongly about taking action.

This article has been updated to add the mayor’s news conference and Hollywood High protest.

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