LOS ANGELES – School officials urged students to stay in class instead of taking part in Tuesday’s planned immigration reform rallies. “Our number one priority is the safety of our students, and we ask that parents and the community at large support us in our effort to keep students in class each day,” Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent David L. Brewer III said Sunday at a news conference. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Cardinal Roger Mahony, head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, made similar requests. Rallies were planned in downtown Los Angeles and around the nation calling for changes in laws regarding illegal immigration. Some groups are calling for an end to police sweeps of illegal immigrants while others oppose guest-worker programs and support making it easier for illegal immigrants to become legal. “I’m a strong believer in free speech but not at the expense of educational opportunity,” California Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell said in Los Angeles. “I encourage all California students to honor the struggles of immigrant parents by working hard in school on May 1 and every day of the school year,” O’Connell added in San Diego. O’Connell said he was a friend of Cesar Chavez and the late Hispanic civil rights leader “would not want students to sacrifice their opportunity to get an education.” School officials also said absences would cost school districts money, since they receive government funding based on daily average student attendance. In San Diego, the immigration-reform group Si Se Puede set its planned march for 3 p.m. to avoid conflict with school hours. However, if students do walk out for rallies, “that’s their choice,” group member David Schmidt said. 165Let’s talk business.Catch up on the business news closest to you with our daily newsletter. Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! On Sunday, nearly 1,000 people held an early rally in San Jose to condemn recent federal sweeps of illegal immigrants. Opponents said raids have led to deportations that have left U.S.-born children without their parents. Another 200 people marched in the tiny agricultural town of Mendota. About the same number were taken into custody in a series of immigration raids in and around the west Fresno County city earlier this year. Organizers have predicted hundreds of thousands of people will take part in Los Angeles rallies Tuesday but it was unclear how many would be students. Last year, an estimated 72,000 Los Angeles youngsters skipped school to join the demonstrations. This year, state and local school officials said it was more important for students to remain in class.