More than 2,800 unaccompanied undocumented immigrant minors have been placed with sponsors in Maryland this year, and school districts in the Old Line State have been advised of their responsibilities to encourage the new immigrants to register for classes.
In a guidance to Maryland school districts obtained by Breitbart News, Maryland’s State Superintendent of Schools Lillian M. Lowery explains to local superintendents the current situation regarding the ongoing situation of unaccompanied minors illegally entering the United States and being placed with families around of the country – many in Maryland.
“Governor O’Malley and state agencies, including [Maryland State Department of Education], are supporting the efforts of the federal government by ensuring children placed in Maryland are treated with compassion, kept safe, and afforded due process as they make their way through federal legal proceedings,” the guidance dated Friday reads.
“Faith leaders, service providers and health and legal professionals are being convened in a series of meetings to pool resources and develop a list of services available to children placed in Maryland,” it continues.
The missive further notifies school districts about a Maryland government webpage where people can go to offer assistance to unaccompanied minors.
“In addition, while the immigration status of these children is resolved, children placed with Maryland families should be encouraged to register in our schools. Under federal law, state and local educational agencies (LEAs) are required to provide all children with equal access to public education at the elementary and secondary levels,” the notice reads.
It stresses that schools are not allowed to inquire about students’ immigration status and highlights a May guidance from the Department of Education and Justice Department offering flexibility on the documentation required to enroll students in school as a way make sure all children residing in the U.S. can get an education.
“We want to be sure every school leader understands the legal requirements under the Constitution and federal laws, and it is our hope that this update will address some of the misperceptions out there,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said at the time. “The message here is clear: let all children who live in your district enroll in your public schools.”
According to Lowery’s email, Maryland school officials have been presented with the May guidance.
“In addition, supporting the education of Central American children who are also English language learners is an appropriate use of local Title III funds,” the letter reads. “Staff at the Maryland Department of Education can provide technical assistance to support LEAs regarding the enrollment and education of these students.”
A MSDE spokesman told Breitbart that MSDE has not requested additional funds from the federal government to deal with the additional students but stressed that he could only speak for MSDE, not the other state agencies.
Since October, more than 62,900 unaccompanied minors have been detained illegally entering the United States. The vast majority of these new arrivals are from Central America.