CAYCE, S.C. – South Carolina schools are scrambling to prepare for next year after a flood of unaccompanied minor immigrants took officials off guard in 2014-15.
Federal officials have shipped about 700 unaccompanied immigrant minors to South Carolina from the U.S.-Mexico border last year, and at least 15 landed at Brookland-Cayce High School, WLTX 19 reports.
Those students spoke little English and tapped out the district’s resources, so officials plan to hire more bilingual teachers and cater instruction to the increasing number of illegal immigrant students.
“We’ve always had a steady population here at BC high school but this year, due to the turmoil in Central America, we’ve had an increase in numbers of students who have migrated to this area,” principal Gregg Morton told the news site.
“Our liaison person works throughout the districts so she’s constantly called throughout the different schools to assist and mainly to try to communicate with the parents and sit down with students and find out what they need,” he said.
“The biggest thing that we want to try to do is redesign and add to our curriculum as we are next year to really help those students.”
In fiscal years 2014 and 2015, a total of 713 unaccompanied minors have been released by the federal government to family members or sponsors in South Carolina, according to federal Office of Refugee Resettlement website.
In total, 65,786 unaccompanied illegal immigrant minors have been dispersed by the government to nearly every state during that time frame.
States that received the most included California with 7,434, Florida with 6,780, Maryland with 4,577, New York with 7,082, and Texas with 8,886, according to the site.
But the focus on gearing up to serve unaccompanied students next school year is also underway in states that received fewer illegal immigrants, like Minnesota.
Fifteen unaccompanied minors registered in Minneapolis schools this year, but some districts received more. In Worthington schools, about 50 enrolled, and the district plans to hire two more English language teachers, two more special education teachers, and two additional nurses to cater to their needs.
The added expenses can take a toll, Worthington superintendent John Landgaard told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
“We’re fortunate we’re better-equipped to serve these students than other districts, but there are still additional costs were dealing with,” he said.
Jessica Vaughan, spokeswoman for the nonprofit Center for Immigration Studies, pointed to Jefferson Parish schools in Louisiana, which was forced to hire 70 teachers and paraprofessionals to serve 530 illegal unaccompanied minors settled there, according to the news site.
“Local communities have an obligation to provide these services, and a lot of them are struggling,” she said.