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New York City Department of Education scrambles to register influx of immigrant children

The New York City Department of Education faces a logistical nightmare as the new school year approaches. He could enroll thousands of recently arrived asylum seekers in the school in less than a month.

City officials estimate that more than 4,000 immigrants from Latin America have sought refuge in New York City in recent weeks, filling homeless shelters in the city. Many are on buses sent by Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

For the city’s school system, this means that by the time classes begin on September 8, hundreds, possibly thousands, of people with no knowledge of U.S. schools, insecure housing, and limited English proficiency. It means identifying newcomers, registering them and securing additional services.

DOE officials say this is an “all-out” effort in collaboration with other city agencies.

“Our staff will meet families of incoming freshmen at shelters to assist with school enrollment, establish support pathways for multilingual learners, and provide incoming freshmen with resources and supplies.” Department of Education spokeswoman Nicole Braunstein said.

But some DOE staff, advocates, and homeless shelter operators say they haven’t seen the system-wide adjustments needed to meet the scale of the challenge.

“This is ridiculous,” said one DOE official involved in registering the new families, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “There is no unified mandate on what to do, no responsibility to ensure that these young people are enrolled in schools and have proper seats.

New students can usually enroll in schools that open in September or at the Family Welcome Center, which is open year-round.

The Department of Education will allocate additional staff to support families in homeless shelters. arrival.

“You have this influx of families, and at best [shelter] Jennifer Pringle, Project Director of Advocates for Children, said:

DOE’s Division of Homeless Students and year-round workers at nonprofit shelters are struggling to catch up on work.

But the number of new arrivals is daunting, and shelter employees, especially new recruits, do not have the expertise to help families navigate the complicated registration process. It’s possible, added Catherine Trapani, executive director of Homeless Services United, a coalition of shelter operators.

“Trying to add staff too quickly usually creates a training gap,” says Trapani.

Department of Education officials said they are training partner agencies and shelters on how to support the educational needs of immigrant children.

Further complicating matters, many of the children may need specialized services not offered at their local schools, supporters say.

All public schools in the city are required to provide “English as a new language” services to students in need. But not every school has a “bilingual” program, where teachers alternate between English and Spanish, and bilingual social workers and counselors can provide mental health support in another language. not.

Everyone is likely to have more headaches if their children end up in school in September without proper services, advocates say.

“It’s not fair to families and schools to have kids flooded into a program that just doesn’t have enough support for them to transfer after a few weeks,” Pringle said. not here.”

Still, many educators are doing all they can to make next month’s freshmen feel welcome.

In Manhattan’s Second District, where officials are expecting 100 to 200 new students, schools are conducting face-to-face enrollment activities, handing out rucksacks and coordinating schedules for English as new language teachers. district superintendent Kelly McGuire told the family.

For one immigrant family, the Department of Education’s outreach has already made a big difference.

Nestor Enrique Torrealba, who arrived in New York last month after a grueling journey from Venezuela with his wife and two daughters, had DOE staff show up at his family’s shelter to explain their options.

Torrealba found a nearby school with a Spanish bilingual program for his 10-year-old daughter. She even got a call in Spanish from her new teacher last week.

“I feel more calm because I know my kids will keep moving forward and not fall behind,” Torrelva said. “That’s your number one wish as a father.”

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