San Ysidro School District’s Board of Education declared a local state of emergency on Nov. 19 to protect 1,550 homeless students in anticipation of severe weather associated with this winter’s El Niño event.

“Over 30 percent of our students face extreme hardship. They struggle with uncertain housing situations, sleeping in cars, garages and on couches night to night,” SYSD Board President Antonio Martinez said. “We cannot expect our children to succeed in their education if they have to worry about their basic needs. Every student deserves to sleep in a safe and secure place, to be well fed, to be healthy.”

The potential severe cold, heavy rains and flooding associated with an El Niño event may expose families living in inadequate conditions to heightened danger and threaten students’ overall well-being and ability to succeed in school.

Homelessness leaves students at increased risk of illness, hunger and mental and physical abuse, which causes them to struggle in class and leaves them more susceptible to dropping out of school. Roughly 4 percent of California public school students were considered homeless in 2012-13, a figure dwarfed by the scope of the problem faced in San Ysidro.

“This resolution is a call to action that will begin to address one of the symptoms of poverty that exists in our community: homelessness,” SYSD Superintendent Dr. Julio Fonseca said. “Homelessness is an extreme barrier to the education of children. Every single one of our students deserves the opportunity to graduate from college and be career-ready. They should have every opportunity to earn a solid wage that will allow them to care for themselves and their families.”

The resolution authorizes the District to:

  • Use District property to temporarily shelter families in need during the 2015-16 school year.
  • Seek Full-Service Community School status for all campuses, opening the door to an array of family-focused academic and social support services.
  • Request that Gov. Jerry Brown declare San Ysidro School District to be in a state of emergency, which will provide access to state resources.

To learn how to support the homeless students of San Ysidro School District, contact SYSD Superintendent Dr. Julio Fonseca at (619) 428-4476, ext. 3021.