Acting to comply with state laws, the Longview School Board Monday acted to make it easier for homeless students to enroll and also banned the district from asking about students’ immigration status.
The new enrollment policy formalizes the district practice of allowing homeless students to enroll immediately without providing a permanent address. Superintendent Dan Zorn said the change brings the policy in line with state laws.
The policy changes also states that a district will not inquire into a student’s citizenship or immigration status, which Zorn said directly reflects state law and how courts have ruled.
“We are bound to serve children who reside in our school district,” Zorn said.
Finally, the policy changes would allows the district to consider accepting children of military families, which is also how the district already operated, according to Zorn, but is not a situation Longview often deals with.
Board member Jennifer Leach said the policy is “looking at the needs of all students.”
The policy passed on first reading at the school board meeting Monday with little public or board comment. They will be subject to further discussion at the next board meeting Jan. 27.
The policy outlines what documents a student must show to prove residency. They must show two of these: a current year property tax bill, grant deed, renter or homeowner policy declaration, current utility bill, signed lease agreement or closing documents.
Board member CJ Nickerson, who called in to the meeting, advocated for strong background checks on students transferring into the district. Zorn, however, said background checks cannot be a condition of enrollment. The district is legally required to take students who live in the district, he said
You have free articles remaining.
Tony VanderMaas, assistant superintendent, said that the district always requests records from the student’s previous district as part of the enrollment procedure.
The board honored community member Ray VanTongeren for his years of volunteer service in the district. VanTongeren said he was cutting back on his many community activities to focus more on his family. Leach said he demonstrated “the power of a volunteer.”
“Ray has been here longer than I have,” said Leach, who has served on the board for more than 20 years. “Ray is involved in the community in a way many probably aren’t aware of.”
VanTongeren has served on multiple citizen advisory committees and volunteered extensively in schools.
Zorn also recognized all the board members for school board appreciation month with a certificate and a framed photo of the board, noting their “incredible selfless work.”
In other business, the board:
Adopted the 2020-2021 school year calendar (full calendar can be found on the district’s website
- Heard a report on November’s budget status. All funds are within expected ranges, according to the report.
- Set dates for next year’s budget development process. Among other staff and committee meetings, there will be three board work sessions Jan. 21, Feb. 18 and March 23, the draft budget will be available for public review July 10 and there will be a public hearing Aug. 10. The budget has to be adopted by Aug. 24.