Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools are urging Hispanic parents not to keep students home from school Thursday as part of a nationwide immigrant protest known as the national A Day Without a Latino.
Organizers are calling for Hispanics to close their businesses, stay home from work, avoid shopping or eating at restaurants and keep their children home from schools in a show of their impact. A protest rally is scheduled for noon today at Marshall Park in uptown.
CMS officials released a statement late Wednesday suggesting a boycott of classes would not be in the best interest of students.
“Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has been made aware of a growing national movement asking our immigrant families to not send their children to school February 16. While we are extremely sensitive to challenges that some of our families are facing, we are asking you to talk with your children about the expectations we have for them...and the importance of attending school each day,” said the statement.
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It was unclear Wednesday if the district was experiencing any mass absences. Attendance data for Thursday won’t be available until Friday, CMS officials said.
In an email sent out to parents, East Mecklenburg High School reported that it noticed “a slight increase in absenteeism” Thursday.
“While we are extremely sensitive to challenges that some of our families are facing, we are asking you to talk with your children about the expectations we have for them at East Mecklenburg and the importance of attending school each day,” said the email, which was in both English and Spanish.
CMS officials have been forced in recent days to deal with widespread rumors of social media that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers had arrested students on the campus of a local school.
However, that rumor has not proven true. ICE says it has a policy against arresting people at “sensitive sites” such as schools, hospitals and churches.
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have assured our superintendent that schools and school bus stops are safe from any immigration law enforcement activity involving our students,” says the CMS statement.
“CMS is asking for the support of all families to ensure that all students are in class every school day.”
It was reported by the city’s Spanish language newspapers that 250 businesses in the city were closed Thursday in support of the Latino protest. Nearly all are immigrant owned and operated. The largest participant is Compare Foods, which has seven stores in Charlotte and Monroe. All will be closed.