BELOIT - Rhetoric by President Donald Trump about rounding up "millions" of illegal immigrants has caused the School District of Beloit to deal with uncertainty and anxiety among its student population, according to interim superintendent Tony Bosco.
Bosco said the district would not cooperate with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency for raids on schools, and has never been contacted by federal authorities.
He also stressed the district does not ask families enrolling students in the district about their citizenship status, and that all support services offered by the district are available to all students, regardless of status.
The district is in the process of improving its dual language resources across all schools, with current interpreting plans in place to serve families whose first language may not be English. Currently there are dual language programs in seven of 10 K-8 schools in the district, something that's been in place for the last eight years, he said.
Bosco said the district looks to dispel rumors and fears that gain traction on social media surrounding immigration enforcement.
"As a school district we have to deal with that," Bosco said. "At the student level, they come unfocused due to hearing some rumor. It's like any other traumatic experience our students may live through. We try to serve the entire student population and families and it's something we deal with fairly often."
Beloit Police Chief David Zibolski said the political dialogue surrounding immigration has caused fear in Beloit. According to city population data, nearly 20 percent of Beloit's residents are Hispanic or Latino.
Bosco said it's up to the district, from the administration to teachers and councilors to ensure all Beloit schools are safe spaces and that "when students come here, we want them to come to focus on learning and growing."
In March, the district approved the formation of an ad hoc committee to address matters brought forward from a listening session held earlier this year with Beloit's Hispanic community. Bosco said the district would work on improving communication between administrators and families to make sure resources were available to all.
"I think we have to break down some of the unknowns. We have to encourage parents to engage with the school in their native language to address concerns and needs," Bosco said.