Katy ISD trustee defends remark about students' immigration status: 'Gross misrepresentations'

Nick Natario Image
Friday, May 10, 2024
Katy ISD trustee defends question about tracking immigration status
Only on ABC13, Katy ISD trustee Morgan Calhoun defended her question about counting students in the country illegally, insisting it was fair.

KATY, Texas (KTRK) -- A Katy Independent School District board member defended herself to ABC13 on Friday after asking if the district could find out how many students are in the country illegally during a board meeting.

What happened at the Katy ISD board meeting on Monday generated a mixed reaction from those in the community.

"I think it's inappropriate, especially with not having a legal guardian or asking students. That is kind of inappropriate," Bria Murry said.

"It would be a disadvantage to have students here illegally to overcrowd our school systems," Linda Tsai said in support of the board member's query. "I think that's a fair question to be asked during the registration process."

School board member Morgan Calhoun generated that reaction on Monday when she asked if they could track students' immigration status.

"Are we even allowed to ask the question?" Calhoun asked during the meeting. "Do we have any way of tracking that just to see what that looks like?"

No other board member commented. The superintendent told Calhoun that's illegal.

ABC13 reached out to Calhoun. She's been silent to the media since Monday.

On Friday, she sent a statement to ABC13:

"In Monday's board meeting I asked a very simple question related to compiling data so that it could be used to advocate and pursue funding to meet a need that we may have. If we can know the true number of illegal immigrant children that we are educating, it gives us the ability to speak to the need, and to our legislators to increase the funding where there may be gaps or challenges that we are potentially running into. I, in no way, ever advocated for or asserted that we should physically monitor or track individual students. Nor did I ever insinuate that we should violate the law by allowing children of any immigration status, disability, race, religion or any other marker of significance to be refused being educated or allowed to be educated in our school. These are gross misrepresentations of my words and my line of inquiry, that I do refute at every level."

These are gross misrepresentations of my words.
Morgan Calhoun, Katy ISD board member

University of Houston assistant clinical professor Duncan Klussmann said the U.S. Supreme Court ruled schools can't ask about immigration more than 40 years ago. In terms of funding, he said no matter their immigration status, families pay into public education through homes, apartments, and sales tax.

"At the end of the day, you want to provide a great education to all kids," Klussmann explained. "What happens when we get into these issues that have already been decided in law and practitioners know how to handle? Then, it becomes a distraction from what we need to be focusing on each day."

Nevertheless, it's a debate that Calhoun said may go from Katy to Austin as she may ask state lawmakers to look into the matter during the next legislative session.

Katy ISD also sent ABC13 a statement on the issue:

"Katy ISD provides equal opportunities to all individuals within its geographic boundaries. The district does not inquire about students' immigration status, nor deny enrollment based on it."

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