Joint Press Release
Sarah Henry, Public Information Officer
City of Alameda
AUSD Superintendent Sean McPhetridge (510) 337-7060
AUSD Board President Gary Lym (510) 337-7187
Alameda, California – January 20, 2017 Both Alameda’s City Council and the Board of Education of the Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) have in recent weeks affirmed their commitment to safety and respect for all individuals.
At its meeting on January 17, Alameda City Councilmembers voted unanimously (with one member not present) to adopt a resolution that reaffirms the City of Alameda’s commitment as a Sanctuary City to the values of dignity, inclusivity, and respect for all individuals, regardless of ethnic or national origin, gender, race, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, or immigration status. (Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer had to leave for the Mayor’s Conference in Washington D.C. before the vote.)
At its meeting on January 13, AUSD’s Board of Education members unanimously expressed support for a resolution declaring AUSD a “safe haven” district for all students. The Board will vote on this resolution at its meeting January 24, 2017.
The City’s Resolution
The City’s resolution that was adopted Tuesday night reconfirms existing City policies and serves as a formal declaration that the City has and will continue to be inclusive to all individuals.
“Following the election, fears that certain groups of people might be targeted or deported have increased in our city,” stated City Manager Jill Keimach. “Those fears are based on a number of factors, including statements made by the President-elect during the campaign and on social media.” On December 20, 2016, the City Council unanimously directed staff to prepare a resolution, reaffirming the City of Alameda’s commitment to LGBTQ rights, religious freedoms, and racial, social, and economic justice, and our commitment to the values of inclusivity, respect, and dignity.
The City’s resolution is the latest action in a century-long tradition of embracing diversity and respecting the civil and human rights of its residents, while acknowledging and understanding laws at every level in the past were often at odds to progress. Since 1917 the City’s Social Service Human Relations Board (SSHRB) has been working to create an environment that encourages and brings about mutual understanding, respect, and goodwill among groups of people in the community. Over the years the City has also co-sponsored campaigns including “Alamedans Together Against Hate,” “Pledge for a Hate Free Alameda,” “No Room for Hate in Alameda,” “Everyone Belongs Here,” and most recently “Love Our Island.”
Thirty community members lined up to speak Tuesday night, one quoting Martin Luther King Jr., “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.” The City’s resolution reaffirms the stance the City took many years ago against biased, racist, and unconstitutional acts.
Councilmember Matarrese directed staff to include that all requests or mandates from the federal government for use of City resources, or the absence of such requests, be reported on a regular basis to the City Council for advice and direction.
“The dichotomy of starting this week with the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and ending it with the events in Washington is not lost on me,” stated Councilmember Jim Oddie, who brought the resolution to Council as a referral in December. “We all have more work to do to increase inclusivity in Alameda and ensure that justice is for all.”
The School District’s Resolution
At its meeting on January 10, 2017, AUSD staff presented the Board of Education with a resolution designating AUSD a “safe haven” district that has an “unequivocal commitment to ensuring a safe educational environment for all.” The resolution also reaffirms within the confines of the law the authority of the Superintendent to protect the data and identities of any student, family member, or school employee who may be adversely affected by efforts to collect such information. The Board will vote on the resolution at its meeting on January 24.
“Ours is a very diverse district,” AUSD Superintendent Sean McPhetridge says. “About 17 percent of our students are English Language Learners; among them they speak more than 72 languages. Last year we launched the ‘Everyone Belongs Here’ campaign, in partnership with nine other Alameda-based organizations that asserts that our schools are safe spaces for all students. We have had an uptick in hate speech at our school sites since the election. This resolution re-affirms that inclusivity, safety, and respect for all is a core value of our district.”
In recognition of the resolutions, both the City and the school district will hang banner-sized versions of the “Everyone Belongs Here” poster in their lobbies today. Over the next several weeks, the district will also hang the banners at each of its school sites.