A Fight at EBHS Sparks Debate on School Police Sharing Info with Feds

A Boston Public School police report about at incident at East Boston High School that said the report would be shared with the Boston Regional Intelligence Center, or BRIC, has immigrant rights activists fuming.

The incident involved two students trying to start a fight at the High School, but were unsuccessful in doing so. According to the school police report the matter was resolved at the school level without any physical altercation and “school administrators along with school police spoke with all the students involved and mediated this incident.”

However, while cooler heads prevailed an incident report was filed by school police advising that the incident report would be sent to BRIC, a network of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies including ICE.

While ICE maintains that the agency does not have access to student incident records except in extreme circumstances such as “gang-related homicides or possible threats to public safety” Matt Cregor of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice said school police making unsubstantiated gang allegations on reports about immigrant students allows these reports to enter into BRIC and later accessed by ICE. Cregor argues that school police may be overusing the words ‘gang’ or ‘gang-related’ on these reports to ensure the reports find their way to federal authorities.

Cregor fears this method may be a way for school police to tip off ICE agents concerning students who may be undocumented but are in no way shape or form gang members.

“We respect the roles that schools and law enforcement can play in countering gang violence,” he said. “However, we are deeply concerned to see a report of an “unsuccessful fight” – a routine non-event that didn’t take place – transmitted from BPS to BRIC.  We are equally concerned about BPS’s and ICE’s public denials about this type of information-sharing.  The public has a right to know about these practices, in order to ensure that agencies are not labeling certain youth, landing them in ICE custody instead of the principal’s office.We continue to demand that public officials disclose public records that would shed further light on this troubling nexus between schools and ICE.  Further, we demand that Boston immediately put in place the right checks to properly protect the safety – and constitutional rights – of all our youth.”

A spokesperson for BPS, Daniel O’Brien, said as a matter of policy BPS does not request immigration status from families or keep any records detailing the immigration status of students.

“Further, unless ordered to do so by a court of law, BPS does not provide law enforcement authorities with copies of any students records, which are protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA),” said O’Brien. “BPS School Police can share school incident reports, which are different than student records and are considered police reports, with their partners at the Boston Police Department when it is a matter of public safety. Examples of this includes records related to potential suspects involved in gang-related homicides or possible threats to public safety. School incident reports are created and maintained by BPS School Police for law enforcement purposes and, as law enforcement records, are not considered to be student records.”

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