Update August 19: “Not the school I deserve,” said refugee. Here.
This is a lesson for every town contemplating becoming a “welcoming” refugee resettlement site.
Are you listening Rutland, VT, Aberdeen, SD, Reno, NV, Missoula, MT, Charleston, WV and Fayetteville, Arkansas?
This news comes to us from “welcoming” Lancaster, PA (btw, it is in Lancaster that I first heard citizens, who asked questions about refugee impact, described as being in “pockets of resistance!”)
Apparently the Lancaster school system sought to deal with older, non-English speaking, refugees by placing them in an alternative school system, but lawyers for the ACLU and others will have none of it. So now the school district there will be in court all week defending their decision at taxpayer expense.
And, so much for your American kids getting a good education!
As many as 700 refugees are resettled each year in Lancaster, a high number for the city’s population. [This will happen to your town! Once they get a foothold the original 50 or 100 become 200, 500, 700 in one year!—ed]
Four of them are spending today in court, where they’ll testify in a lawsuit against the School District of Lancaster.
The suit alleges the district’s breaking the law by refusing to admit older teen refugees or automatically diverting them to an accelerated credit program. There, the case claims, they get an education inferior to what’s available at the local public high school (particularly when it comes to English language instruction.)
But attorney Sharon O’Donnell, who’s representing the school, says “the bottom line is whether the court can tell the [Lancaster] school board where to place students.”
Pennsylvania school code says residents between 6 and 21 years old are entitled to a free public education. At least one international treaty, the U.N.’s 1951 Refugee Convention, requires refugees to get the same public education as residents of countries where they’re resettled. [So we are being told that a UN treaty could govern our local school board decisions!—ed]
The lawsuit also alleges civil rights and federal Equal Educational Opportunities Act violations by the school, which O’Donnell refuted in recent court filings.
The lawsuit in Pennsylvania is similar to others filed in Florida and settled in New York this spring, and comes as refugee resettlement is expected to continue to rise.
The lawsuit’s being brought by a total of six student refugees, represented by a team of lawyers. Aside from Rothschild, they’re from the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia-based Education Law Center.