An Open Memo to Secretary DeVos Who Displays Her Ignorance in Front of Congress About Immigration Enforcement and the Rights of Students

There is really no nice way of saying this. And I don’t really know who reads my work, but I sincerely hope that it finds its way to the evil Betsy DeVille (as I have long dubbed her) somehow! This is for you Betsy.

First of all, you are a wretched human being. I am giving you a lot of credit here for even acknowledging you are human. So let me explain something to you. Children in our schools are protected by the likes of you, by a little precedent setting case that you really ought to familiarize yourself with. A case that was decided over three decades ago, Plyler v. Doe, was a landmark decision holding that states cannot constitutionally deny students a free public education on account of their immigration status. I repeat, “states cannot constitutionally deny students a free public education on account of their immigration status.”  

In the future, when you are asked about whether schools should report children that are thought to be undocumented you could respond accordingly as, you know, the Secretary of Education and not a racist nut job. The correct answer is NOT (as you stated) that districts can choose to become a gestapo-like entity and report children at will thus making education, ipso facto a Nazi state. But in fact, the correct answer is NO. It is unconstitutional to report children in schools to ICE!  

But okay. Let’s work through your crazy scenario. Schools starts reporting children who they suspect are here illegally. What’s next? Are we sending in ICE Agents to yank kids out their desks and into what? A Guantanamo-like situation for kids? A warehouse for children who are undocumented? To what end is your ignorance supposed to serve? At this point, I should remind you that thankfully, school funding is determined by Average Daily Attendance (ADA) per pupil. Another fact you should probably note. So most districts will ignore your ridiculous statement simply because they need the money to function! Thank goodness for that.  

Now. Many people think you are evil (and you are) but worse, you are an evil person and you are also willfully ignorant about the constitution, the education code, the laws of the United States and pretty much everything having to do with education up to and including regulations directly from the US Department of Education, the agency that you are charged to run! Girl, look at your own damn website once in a while. Here’s what you will find:


Let’s review what that is shall we.  

FERPA, The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.

Specifically, Ms. DeVille, for educational purposes (me, educating you) that means that schools could only release records or information if they are complying with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena. Are you suggesting that schools should spend their time and money getting courts to subpoenas for children who may be undocumented? It sounds like you just did!  

In this article by the Washington Post aptly entitled, “Astounding ignorance of the law”, you are quoted as saying to the House Committee on Education and you are on record as follows (when asked):

“If a principal or a teacher finds out that a certain child is undocumented, or his or her family members are undocumented, do you feel that the principal or teacher is responsible to call [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] and to have that family reported?”

“Sir, I think that’s a school decision,” DeVos responded. “That’s a local community decision.”

Oh Betsy. Please, just go away. The students would be better off with you gone, and you could go pursue something that you are good at. You are way beyond your ken.

What do you think?

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Leticia Chavez-Garcia

Leticia Chavez-Garcia

Leticia Chavez-Garcia is a Mother, Grandmother, former Middle School Teacher, former Member of a School Board of Education and an Education Advocate for hundreds of parents and students in the Inland Empire. Having become a mother at 15, Leticia knows what it’s like to be a single mother trying to navigate the education system. Leticia received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science and Public Administration from California Baptist University and a Masters’ Degree in Education Technology from Cal State Fullerton in her 30’s. Leticia has used her knowledge and experience to help hundreds of families as an Education Advocate in the Inland Empire and currently works as an Education Specialist.

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