Michel Liedermann, director of Times‘ sister publication El Latino, has provided indirect confirmation from the Little Rock School District that an ICE agent — or a woman representing herself* as an ICE agent — visited Central High School on Thursday. She was turned away, and teachers were notified.
Pam Smith, a spokeswoman for the district, said the LRSD would be releasing a statement shortly.
LRSD Superintendent Mike Poore has sent a note to parents today saying that the district is mandated under the Federal Educational and Privacy Act to limit access to student records. He added that the Supreme Court has established that school districts cannot deny educational rights to any student no matter their citizenship status (Plyler v. Doe) and that LRSD does not collect information on immigrant status.
Our Community, Our Schools posted Poore’s note to parents on its Facebook page. Arkansas United, an advocacy group for immigrants, also posted on that page that it’s unknown whether the person was actually an ICE agent.
UPDATE: The Little Rock School District has issued a news release saying the customs agent was legit, and was seeking background information on a former student who’d applied for a job with a federal agency:
The person presented herself as an official with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), asking questions about a student who had graduated from the school. This afternoon, officials told LRSD’s Director of Safety and Security, Ron Self, that the person was not seeking status information on a student or students.However, the request for information was denied, as the Little Rock School District does not provide student information to anyone other than the student’s parent/guardian or Department of Human Services (DHS) officials with proper identification/credentials, per the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).LRSD began working with federal and local authorities to determine whether or not the person was an ICE agent, or an imposter, and to determine the reason for the visit. The District also conducted its own investigation and wanted to quickly dispel any misinformation or rumors.Meantime, the District has communicated its commitment to ensuring the privacy of all students to parents, as well as a reminder to all staff regarding related protocols.
School principals have been advised that if approached by someone identifying himself as an immigration official to request a copy of credentials and make a copy, inform the official of the FERPA prohibition of disclosing student information to third parties and, that if the official becomes aggressive, to contact LRSD Director of Safety and Security Ron Self.
*The original post identified the person as a man.