ICE Requested the Records of Children, But Were Turned Down by Nashville Elementary School; ICE says They Weren't There

ICE allegedly requested the records of several children attending Una Elementary School in Nashville, but the school turned them down, according to The Tennessean. Meanwhile, ICE officials deny anyone from their office ever came to the school.

The school is noted for its diverse learning population, with many students being children of immigrants. Thirty-nine percent of Una Elementary's students are English language learner students, and 23 different languages are spoken at the school, according to a story in The Nashville Scene.

According to Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) spokesperson K. Dawn Rutledge, only the principal can determine whether or not a student's records can be released to someone who is not the child's parent or guardian.

"If the person requesting the information produces a document that appears to be a legal document that a principal has any question about, such as a warrant or other court order, MNPS principals are instructed to call their superiors for support and review," she said.

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Una Elementary School in Nashville said no when ICE agents allegedly asked to see the records of some of the students at the majority non-white school. Getty

Lisa Sherman-Nikolaus, policy director for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, responded positively to the school's decision.

"Using school children to tear families apart does not make our communities safer or stronger. The very presence of ICE agents creates fear and anxiety, which only distracts from the important work Nashville educators do to foster a supportive and healthy learning environment for every student," Sherman-Nikolaus said.

"We are grateful for the actions taken by the Una Elementary school staff to put their students' safety first, and we encourage Metro Public Schools to continue to develop robust policies and ensure all teachers, staff and administrators are prepared, trained and ready to reject ICE's unwelcome intrusions into our schools," she continued.

"They have a memo from 2011 saying that schools are considered sensitive locations, along with hospitals and churches," Gini Pupo-Walker, a Nashville school board member, said. "So, this is alarming that they are willing to sort of cross that line. Really troubling, and I think really creates a lot of urgency for me as a school board member and chair of the governance committee to have us revisit what our policy is on sharing student data."

Juliana Ospina Cano, executive director of Conexión Américas, also had praise for the school.

"Our schools are places where our children go to learn, grow, and thrive in a safe and welcoming environment," she said.

"Federal immigration enforcement has no place in Nashville schools or any school in Tennessee," she added.

ICE spokesman Bryan Cox has told WKRN, The Associated Press and The Tennessean that the notion of an ICE agent trying to enforce policy on school grounds is "unlikely." He is investigating the report.

"We don't do any immigration enforcement at schools," he said. "They fall under our 'sensitive location' policies. I can't imagine why we would need records from a school."

Correction: 10/15/2019: 12:40 AM: Added quotes from ICE spokesman Bryan Cox.

ICE Requested the Records of Children, But Were Turned Down by Nashville Elementary School; ICE says They Weren't There | U.S.