News

Latino students absent from school during mass march

By MIKE HALLIDAY

The Mirror

Teachers and principals in the Federal Way Public Schools system reported a high number of Latino students absent on Monday.

While school officials said they didn’t officially know why a large percentage of Latino students weren’t at school, it was generally believed the kids were attending the immigration rally in Seattle that afternoon.

Some of the students could face discipline from schools.

In the Jet City and other cities across the country, Latinos held demonstrations against proposed legislation to criminalize illegal immigration. Some immigrant advocates called for a nationwide boycott to show how dependent the United States is on migrant labor. Businesses –– from factories to restaurants –– around the country reportedly were closed because of employees not coming to work or in solidarity for the demonstrators.

According to Federal Way school officials, a little more than half of Mark Twain Elementary School’s Latino population was absent. At Olympic View Elementary, 70 of the school’s 117 Latino students were absent –– 60 percent.

Sunnycrest Elementary School reported all but four or five of its 120 absences were Latinos, meaning about 82 percent of that population were gone.

Sacajewea, Totem and Illahee middle schools reported between 40 and 74 percent of their Latino populations were absent.

There wasn’t any direct information about high schools, but informal observations at Decatur and Federal Way, which have large Latino populations, concluded 70 percent were absent.

A letter sent by the school district to parents last Friday explained, in English and Spanish, the district’s policies regarding student absences and asked parents to encourage their children to stay in school.

“If a student does not attend school and has a written excuse from the parent when he or she returns, the absence will be excused and there will be no discipline given. The student must make up any missed schoolwork,” the letter stated. “If a student does not attend school, and has no written excuse from his or her parent, the absence will be unexcused. The school will impose a disciplinary action such as detention or community service.”

The letter went on to state that the school district didn’t endorse the “protest” but wanted to be sensitive “to the concerns of our students regarding this issue.”

Staff writer Mike Halliday: 925-5565, mhalliday@fedwaymirror.com

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