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Education

After Trump's Election, Austin ISD Trustee Reminds Students Schools Are Safe

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Miguel Gutierrez Jr.
/
KUT
After the election of Donald Trump, Austin School Board Trustee Paul Saldaña wrote an open letter to Austin ISD students. "

Austin School Board Trustee Paul Saldaña got a call this morning from a parent who was in tears after dropping off her 15-year-old son at school. The mother said her son is worried about his classmates –­ many of whom come from families with undocumented relatives or are undocumented themselves ­– after the election of Donald Trump.

Saldaña says the student is concerned about Trump’s campaign rhetoric and the possibility of mass deportations in a Trump Administration – a key component of the president-elect’s platform.

The student’s mother said she was struggling to talk to her son about it, and, Saldaña says, he was also having similar conversations with his 8-year-old son. So, he decided to write an open letter to Austin ISD students.

In the letter, which was posted to Facebook, Saldaña wrote, “too often adults are not mindful [of children]” and that “difficult discussions” of politics and elections are often imposed upon children:

I want you to know how much I admire the concerns you have expressed this week for your friends, classmates, and schools. And I encourage you to have these thoughtful conversations among your peers and with your teachers in the classrooms. It’s okay for you to express any concerns you may have and to find your voice and use it with conviction. Most importantly, I want to reassure you, that your school and classroom is your home and your sanctuary. It belongs to you and you are safe.

Austin ISD is the largest urban school district that has a “No Place for Hate” designation from the Anti-Defamation League. The initiative provides resources to combat bullying, bias and discrimination in the classroom. Additionally, the district promotes social and emotional learning, which emphasizes the use of student expression to help deal with difficult issues at school or at home.

“It’s okay to feel anxiety you are feeling, but, most importantly, as a district, it’s important to reiterate that schools and classrooms are sanctuary,” Saldaña said in an interview with KUT.

Saldaña says he wants to host a community conversation in the next few days to remind people about Austin ISD’s priorities and initiatives that promote safe spaces in schools, and also offer advice to parents who may be having difficulty talking to their children.  

You can read Saldaña's full letter below.

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