Immigration Protests, Part 2: Student Walkouts

Many thousands of protesters expected to join demonstrations against proposed changes to U.S. immigration policy on Monday, the latest in a series of mass demonstrations about the issue. High school students are a large part of protest movement, and many have walked out of classes to participate. Alex Chadwick speaks with Raul Bejarano, superintendent of the Sunnyside Unified School District in Tucson, Ariz., about how his schools are preparing for Monday's "day of action."


Students have been a part of these protests in cities across the country. In Arizona, Monday is supposed to be a day for statewide testing. Ray Bejarano is superintendent of the Sunnyside Unified School District in southern Tucson. Mr. Bejarano, how many students do you have in your school district?

Mr. RAUL BEJARANO (Superintendent, Sunnyside Unified School District): There's approximately 17,000 students.

CHADWICK: That's a lot. What are you expecting on Monday?

Mr. BEJARANO: Well, we hope the students will stay in class, especially all of those students that have to continue taking the AIMS test. That's the Arizona State's measure, you know, the standards, and that's our state test, you know, for AYP and for Arizona LEARNS.

CHADWICK: You're sending a letter home to parents and students today. What are you saying?

Mr. BEJARANO: Basically, we want to encourage the parents to talk to their students, their children, to remain in school. We know that many of the parents are probably going to participate in the march. We know that in some cases the students are going to attempt to walk out of the school. We hope that they do not do that because then it places the district, the school district, in a liability situation, and we don't want students to walk out of school.

CHADWICK: You must be listening or trying to listen to kids in school this week. What are they saying? I mean, what are the expectations? Are they excited about this? Or...

Mr. BEJARANO: Well, I think that this is a very exciting time for them. They are involved. This is what, you know, we're seeking for kids to get involved in politically charged and socially charged topics of this nature. This is what we want of our citizens, yet we don't want them marching out of school, you know, for their safety and of course because of the time that we're in when the students are taking these very serious exams.

CHADWICK: I bet some student has said to you this week, but Mr. Bejarano, this is the best learning experience we could have.

Mr. BEJARANO: And it probably is. Unfortunately, we have, you know, state laws and district laws, district board policies that don't allow for students to walk out of campus. And so, you know, we're kind of stuck in a dilemma here that we understand that this is a great learning opportunity for students and for communities, but they have to see our side that, you know, that their safety is of the utmost importance to us.

CHADWICK: Where are you going to be on Monday, Mr. Bejarano, in your office, out on the campus, driving around, doing what?

Mr. BEJARANO: I probably will be in my office, you know, listening, you know, from the different schools, what is happening. I can't be at both schools at the same time. I can't be downtown at the march, but I probably will be at the central office, you know, taking in reports, seeing what is happening, and taking it from there.

CHADWICK: Raul Bejarano, superintendent of the Sunnyside Unified School District in southern Tucson. Mr. Bejarano, thank you for speaking with us.

Mr. BEJARANO: Thank you very much.

CHADWICK: Good luck on Monday.

Mr. BEJARANO: Thank you, sir.

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