Councilman: Public school staff telling immigrant Brooklyn students to ‘start packing their bags’ after Trump election

Councilman: Public school staff telling immigrant Brooklyn students to ‘start packing their bags’ after Trump election
File photo by Stefano Giovannini

Public school employees are bullying immigrant students in Bay Ridge and Sunset Park, saying “they’d better start packing their bags,” on the heels of Donald Trump’s election victory, according to a letter Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D–Sunset Park) and members of two local community education councils sent to schools chancellor Carmen Farina on Nov. 15.

“I recently met with parents from CECs 15 and 20 and local community organizations. They expressed urgent concerns about what their children have experienced at school since the recent national election,” Menchaca wrote. “Parents have reported to me alarming details of recent student bullying, harmful language, hostile treatment by non-teacher employees, and students overhearing inappropriate comments among DOE staff.”

Sunset Park is home to a sizable immigrant community, most notably from Mexico and China.

During the election, Trump made deporting Mexicans in particular a centerpiece of his platform and repeatedly disparaged Mexican immigrants as “criminals” and “rapists.”

There has been an uptick in hate crimes following the election, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has tallied more than 400 incidents nationwide since Nov. 9 — 137 specifically targeted immigrants.

A school custodian at PS 169 in Sunset Park was overheard saying, “I hope he builds the wall, and I hope they throw them over the fence,” according to a crossing guard who asked to remain anonymous because she did not have the Department of Education’s permission to speak to the press.

Parents there are outraged.

“It’s despicable to say things like that around children,” sad Sunset Parker Marisol Garcia, whose daughter is a first-grader at PS 169. “I want my daughter to feel safe at school. We shouldn’t have to worry about someone making her scared that we’re going to be deported.”

The school is known for its diversity, and the majority of its 1,624 students are Asian or Latino, according to Department of Education data.

And students aren’t just hearing things from school staff.

The morning after the election, people have driven by the school as students arrived for class shouting, “All you immigrants are moving out of here,” and “Yes, Trump won!,” according to the crossing guard.

Several students were crying out of fear that their families are going to be deported, according to parents. And some parents are even nervous to bring their students school following the election.

“It’s really upsetting to hear stuff like this is going on right here in Sunset Park, in an area that is so diverse,” said Victor Severino, whose son is a third-grader at PS 169. “I trust the school, but it It makes me nervous bringing my kid here.”

The city is investigating the reports and will follow up appropriately, according to an education department spokeswoman.

“Schools are safe havens for communities and we are dedicated to providing all students with a safe, supportive and inclusive learning environment. We have explicit protocols and robust training programs in place to ensure any incidents of harassment, discrimination, or bullying are swiftly addressed,” said rep Toya Holness.

A man punched a fellow diner in the face at a downtown bistro last weekend after she made disparaging remarks about the president-elect.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at mspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.