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Safe Zone School Districts

All students should have the opportunity to learn without the fear and distress that results from harsh immigration enforcement. Join the movement to make school campuses “safe zones” for immigrant students and communities.
Students with an orange banner saying Every School a Sanctuary
Published: April 1, 2018 Last Updated: May 24, 2023

A pragmatic approach to immigration is critical for our students — the center of our communities. All students should have the opportunity to learn without the fear and distress that results from harsh immigration enforcement. Educators are witnessing the impact of this trauma on our students, their families and our communities firsthand. Many school districts are making their campuses “safe zones” for immigrant students and communities. You can be part of this movement.

Sample Safe Zone Resolution & Model Policy

It is the right of every child, regardless of immigration status, to access a free public K-12 education.

When federal immigration authorities aggressively pursue enforcement activities on or around school property and transportation routes — whether by surveillance, interviews, demands for information, arrest, detention, or any other means — it harmfully disrupts the learning environment and significantly interferes with the ability of all students, including U.S. citizen students and immigrant students legally in the country, to access a free public K-12 education.

NEA has developed sample resolution and district policy that can be used as a template or guidance for local school districts to create their own Safe Zones resolutions. The language is closely tied to the Supreme Court case Plyler v. Doe which is the foundational precedent establishing that access to K-12 education is a civil right. The model resolution contains reassurances for students, procedures for law enforcement, and information and support for families and staff.

Download our sample resolution

FAQ: Safe Zone School Board Resolutions

What can we do to address student fear about aggressive immigration enforcement? Join with your local NEA association to lobby your school board for a SAFE ZONE resolution. It contains reassurances for students, procedures for responding to law enforcement, and information and support for families and staff. Countless school districts across the country have already passed SAFE ZONE resolutions. These districts include large urban districts like Los Angeles, to small rural districts in Colorado and New Hampshire, and everywhere in between, such as Omaha, Nebraska, and Louisville, Kentucky.
What needs to take place in order for our district to become a SAFE ZONE? Your school board can take up a proposed resolution like the one attached here at its next regularly scheduled meeting. Supply your school board with sample language and be sure to comply with the board’s meeting notice requirements. Through the board’s normal governance procedure, it can approve and sign a SAFE ZONE resolution, including a policy that would then take effect immediately.
Does a SAFE ZONE resolution require additional district expenditures, staff responsibilities, school hours, or other resources? No, unless you wish to add support beyond NEA’s template, such as adding a counselor for extra support for immigrant students who are in crisis. The template SAFE ZONE resolution reaffirms and clarifies the constitutional right all students have, regardless of immigration status, to access a free public K-12 education. The district administration will need to take steps to ensure the resolution’s requirements are being fulfilled as outlined in the district policy attached to the NEA template SAFE ZONE board resolution, but it does not add new or different job duties or hours for educators.
Can I discuss immigration enforcement and student fears in my classroom? Yes, if your school board passes a SAFE ZONE resolution that provides for such discussion, the discussion is age appropriate and mandatory curricular subjects are also covered in a timely way. The productivity of the learning environment improves when pressing concerns of students can be addressed. In the absence of a SAFE ZONE resolution, NEA recommends you follow existing district rules on classroom teaching.

Put Your School District on the Map

Los Angeles, Seattle, Houston, Omaha, Miami, Nashville, Pittsburgh… these are just a few of the scores of cities and communities across the country where school districts have passed their own safe zone resolutions. Click on the map below to see where school districts have passed or are considering Safe Zones policies to protect our immigrant students!

Join the community of activists committed to advancing social and racial justice in public education

Ensuring opportunity for ALL students to succeed – regardless of ZIP code – is going to take all of us doing our part.
3 activists hold a banner protesting immigration policy

Take Action on Racial & Social Justice

We are on a mission to dismantle unjust systems, and together, as educators and allies, we can take actions to address the inequities that result from institutionally racist policies and practices in our schools and the communities in which our students live. Join us to work for access and opportunity for all students.
National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.