Opposition to school “dragnet” policy unites rival groups

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Washoe County School District photo.
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Washoe County School District photo.

From guidelines involving gender-diverse students to stances on education savings account, the ACLU of Nevada and Power2Parent’s opinions on policies could not be further from one another. 

For once, the groups are united to oppose a Washoe County School District policy that requires parents to provide a government-issued photo identification. Board Policy 1505 uses IDs to implement an immediate background check and exclude “any individual who is found to be a registered sex offender, on an active warrants list or on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s terrorist list” from coming on school premises.

“I urge all of our education leaders to reject the instinct to pass policies out of fear, just for the appearance of taking action,” said Tod Story, the executive director of ACLU of Nevada in a statement. “Parents and families should be able to support their children through participation in school activities without being afraid of being caught up in a law enforcement dragnet. Even warrants for minor traffic infractions can lead to family separations and a parent’s deportation, and Washoe Schools will be complicit in these separations if they continue down this path.”

Erin Philips, president of Power2Parent, called the measure costly and time-consuming. “This background check policy will burden already underfunded and overworked staffs and give power to public school principals that reaches far beyond the scope of their duties,” she said. “Schools do not become the parent when children step into the schoolhouse, and we will not allow parents to be disenfranchised or to be forced to surrender their privacy rights in exchange for a false promise of safety.”

The two groups along with the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, Hope for Prisoners, DREAM Big Nevada, Tu Casa Latina, and Ridge House are challenging the school district.  

In a four-page letter, the groups outlined potential unintended consequences the new rule could create.

“Immigrants across the United States are more fearful of law enforcement than ever before, and with good reason,” they wrote. “An outstanding warrant, even for incidents as minor as a traffic infraction, could very well lead to a parent’s deportation.”

Other concerns included barriers to obtaining government-issued IDs and problems with government watch lists. 

“According to the government’s own watchlisting rules, ‘concrete facts are not necessary’ to meet the standards for blacklisting, and uncorroborated information of doubtful reliability can suffice,” the groups wrote. “Parents may be placed on a watchlist for nothing more than taking a trip to visit family abroad and yet this policy would ban them from their children’s school.”

Michael Lyle
Michael Lyle (MJ to some) has been a journalist in Las Vegas for eight years.  He started his career at View Neighborhood News, the community edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. During his seven years with the R-J, he won several first place awards from the Nevada Press Association and was named its 2011 Journalist of Merit. He left the paper in 2017 and spent a year as a freelance journalist accumulating bylines anywhere from The Washington Post to Desert Companion. While he covers a range of topics from homelessness to the criminal justice system, he gravitates toward stories about race relations and LGBTQ issues. Born and mostly raised in Las Vegas, Lyle graduated from UNLV with a degree in Journalism and Media Studies. He is currently working on his master's in Communications through an online program at Syracuse University. In his spare time, Lyle cooks through Ina Garten recipes in hopes of one day becoming the successor to the Barefoot Contessa throne. When he isn’t cooking (or eating), he also enjoys reading, running and re-watching episodes of “Parks and Recreation.” He is also in the process of learning kickboxing.

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