The Superintendent’s Advisory Committee on Immigrant and Refugee Student Concerns (SACIRSC) consists of parents, community leaders, and staff who raise concerns voiced by immigrant and refugee students and parents; leverage the Committee’s knowledge, networks, and resources to identify solutions to the issues raised and advocate for timely implementation, and support the APS vision “to be an inclusive community that empowers all students to foster their dreams, explore their possibilities, and create their futures.”
Specifically, the Committee identifies and addresses:
- Challenges that hold students back from living up to their potential;
- Changes necessary to empower parents to support their children in school;
- Ways to recognize and celebrate the contributions of immigrants and refugees to our community.
The Committee meets five times between September and May. For more information or to volunteer to serve on this Committee, contact Stephen Linkous, Committee liaison, at firstname.lastname@example.org .
- Ensuring home, food, and income security for families to enable students to focus and succeed in school. Need: Close and regular contact between APS and the County to provide seamless support for families. The weekly meetings of DHS and APS social workers in the 4thQ are one model for cooperation.
- Ensuring connectivity and devices are adequate to enable students to successfully do distance learning. Need: Staff must initiate frequent check-ins with students and families, and ITCs must be easily accessible and responsive.
- Ensuring that curriculum and implementation for EL students meets their needs, the DoJ requirements, and gaps highlighted by WestEd in last year’s evaluation. Need: Frequent classroom observations and check-ins with parents and commitment to adapt to changing circumstances.
- Ensuring APS communications are enhanced, responsiveness is improved, and family engagement is expanded to meet the increased need as a result of distance learning. Need: Ombudsman line for parents and review of bilingual family liaison role, responsibilities and reporting to ensure these front-line workers are meeting the need.
- Ensuring social-emotional support for students. Need: Crisis call line and frequent check-ins with students.
2019-2020 Summary to Superintendent in July 2020
As the coronavirus pandemic upended the work of the SACIRSC mid-stream, advocacy on broader access and equity issues was superseded by concerns about families’ basic needs and about connectivity and support to enable distance learning. This new focus prompted initiation of direct-services work on grocery distributions, interventions to help families get and stay connected to APS and County services, and a new focus on communications and engagement gaps. SACIRSC members – both community leaders and staff – responded heroically, giving many additional hours to their work to help families. Please see specific accomplishments below.
- Policy changes: Provided feedback on admissions policy/PIP to clarify the conditions under which immigrant students living with a non-parent (kinship) caregiver may be enrolled. J-5.3.30. This removed barriers to enrollment for some students whose parents could not care for them.
- Raised equity concerns and recommended alterations to various policy changes, including use of new visitor ID’s, move to online first-day packets and move to online FARM registration.
- Community updates: Sponsored summer 2019 Know Your Rights session for families, including on-site completion of powers of attorney designating a caregiver for APS purposes.
- Staff updates: Delivered updates on public charge rule and other developments at the summer 2109 Administrative Conference and for 70+ bilingual family liaisons, counselors, and social workers in September.
- English Learner program: Solicited feedback from families and provided recommendations on changes to the EL program. Provided feedback on proposed distance learning plans for EL’s in spring and at points during implementation.
- Social safety net: Identified gaps in FARM services and recommended additional sites during implementation of grab-and-go meal program in the spring. Compiled and distributed weekly What You Need to Know summaries for families, starting in March.
- Strengthened relationships with County officials who play a key role in ensuring the social safety net. As part of this work, surveyed families to ID priority concerns and shared them with APS and County DHS and communications officials, prompting the County to use new avenues, such as short videos, to improve communication.
- Worked directly with hundreds of families to help them find the appropriate APS contact for a particular need, e.g. problems with connectivity or device, as well appropriate County contacts for food, rent, etc. Organized and raised funds for ongoing monthly grocery distribution and cards to 300+ families.
- Collaboration: Facilitated development of relationships in the immigrant community that resulted in collaboration on communications and assistance, creation of a volunteer Abuelitos program, consisting of retired APS EL teachers, to tutor interested EL students during the summer, etc.
2018-2019 Accomplishments included:
- Got clarification in APS policy and practices that the school system will accept a power of attorney that designates a caregiver living within 30 miles of Arlington in the event of parent detention/deportation to enable a child to stay in his home school for 180 days or the remainder of the year, whichever comes first. J-5.3.30
- Advocated for closer cooperation among APS, County government, and non-profit community organizations to strengthen the social safety net that undergirds students’ ability to succeed in school.