In response to student anxieties about Trump, L.A. Unified opens hotline and support centers
The Los Angeles Unified School District has set up a hotline and opened "extended support sites" to respond to a high level of student anxiety about the election of Donald Trump as president.
Parents and teachers learned about the new resources in a recorded call Monday from district Supt. Michelle King.
She said the aim was to answer students' questions and address their worries "about potential impact on them and their families" and "to provide you with emotional support, enrollment and attendance information and referrals to outside resources," according to a transcript of the call provided by the district. The message was distributed in English and Spanish.
The support centers are in local district offices and in the Hollywood field office of Board of Education President Steve Zimmer. They'll be manned by district staff from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays without any additional hires, LAUSD spokeswoman Barbara Jones said. The hotline, which will be answered weekdays, is (866) 742-2273.
At 9th Street School, a downtown elementary school, interim Principal Antonio Camacho said he planned to discuss King's message with staff Tuesday afternoon.
"If teachers have students who are concerned about their safety, I want to make sure they know where to refer them," Camacho said.
Jenny Jerome of Pacific Palisades has three children in three different L.A. Unified schools. She was taken aback by the call, which followed earlier outreach about increased school support. "No other time in history have we had to have school counselors on duty more because of the person who is supposed to be president," she said. "I've seen kids acting really scared and crying."
When she told her children about the call, her son said he already knew about it. The news had come over the public address system in his middle school.
L.A. Unified officials took a stand right after the election to say they would protect students from deportation and hate incidents.
The week after the election, the school board voted that the city's public schools were "safe zones" for students in the U.S. illegally, affirming an earlier resolution that employees were not to allow federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents onto campuses without district permission.
Zimmer said in a statement the day after the election that "with emotions running high, our schools will continue to be the anchors of our neighborhoods."
State Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said: "I want to let all of California's 6.2 million public school students know that keeping them safe from discrimination and bullying … is a top priority.… California already has, and will always maintain, strong legal and state Constitutional protections against any and all kinds of discrimination."
Trump campaigned on the promise that he would build a wall to keep out immigrants from Mexico and deport those who had come to the U.S. illegally.
Los Angeles Unified is 74% Latino, and the threats hit home for many students. Teachers districtwide spent class time reassuring young people that they would be safe at school.
"I'm not here to deport anyone," history teacher Noemi Morales told a class at Van Nuys Middle School. "I'm on your side. I'm your advocate. I'm fighting for you."
This is the full transcript of King's message:
Hello. This is Supt. Michelle King with an important message for the L.A. Unified family.
Although it has been nearly a month since the presidential election, many of our students still have questions and concerns about potential impact on them and their families. As part of our commitment to providing a safe and positive learning environment, we are providing additional resources for our families.
We have opened Extended Support Sites at each of our Local District offices, as well as at the field office of Board President Steve Zimmer. These sites are open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, to provide you with emotional support, enrollment and attendance information and referrals to outside resources. We have also set up a hotline at (866) 742-2273, where you can call with questions and concerns. We invite you to visit lausd.net for details about these and other resources.