A Katy ISD board of trustees member asked district leaders if they can seek permission to track students’ immigration status from state lawmakers next year.

In a nutshell

At a May 6 KISD work study meeting, trustee Morgan Calhoun, who was elected in May 2023, asked Chief Financial Officer Christopher Smith and other district leaders if they could know how many undocumented students were attending KISD schools.

Her question came after board members and staff discussed other district expenditures toward student demographic groups—specifically transportation costs to help homeless students get to school.

“[Do] we have any way of measuring or coming to an understanding of how many illegal immigrant children that we have within our district that we are educating?” Calhoun said. “Are we even allowed to ask the question? Do we have any way of tracking that just to see what that looks like?”

Zooming out

Superintendent Ken Gregorski said district staff aren’t legally allowed to ask students or families their immigration status.

“There are certain rules to educating all students in the state of Texas, and regardless of somebody’s immigration status, districts [are] required to enroll somebody, and it would be unlawful to ask their immigration status, so we don’t track that,” he said.

While school districts' staff can ask for proof students live within district boundaries, officials aren’t allowed to ask about a student’s immigration or citizenship status, or deny a child experiencing homelessness the right to an education, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Community Impact reached out to the DOE for more information, but the request was not returned by press time.

What you need to know

With KISD facing a projected $7.8 million shortfall for the fiscal year 2024-25 budget, Calhoun said she believed the district could incur more federal revenue if staff knew how many students are undocumented. She said she didn’t want to “demonize” anyone but said she believed it was her fiduciary responsibility to ask.

What’s next

With the 89th Texas Legislature set to begin in January, Calhoun asked district leaders to bring the item to lawmakers.

“I think when we’re looking at the budget that we’re looking at and we’re squeezed in the way that we’re squeezed, I feel like it’s relevant to start asking these questions to push on our legislators when we go forward in 2025 and we start talking about where our needs are—this is a need,” she said.

Community Impact reached out to Calhoun additional comments, but she did not respond as of press time.