Department of Education: Unaccompanied Illegal Immigrant Minors 'Entitled to' Public Education

Article author: 
Caroline May
Article publisher: 
Breitbart
Article date: 
12 August 2014
Article category: 
Our American Future
Medium
Article Body: 

The Department of Education released a fact sheet Monday about the availability of public school education for undocumented immigrant children — specifically the tens of thousands unaccompanied minors [unaccompanied alien children] who have recently entered the U.S. illegally. 

“We have begun to receive inquiries regarding educational services for a specific group of immigrant [illegal alien] children who have been in the news – children from Central America who have recently crossed the U.S. - Mexico border,” the Department of Education explains.

“This new fact sheet provides information to help education leaders better understand the responsibilities of States and local educational agencies (LEAs) in connection with such students, and the existing resources available to help educate all immigrant students – including children who recently arrived in the United States,” it adds.  

The fact sheet lays out the basics about the undocumented immigrant [illegal alien] children’s rights and what communities can do to help with enrollment...

Existing resources that may be helpful to communities enrolling immigrant children, including newly arrived immigrant children, include:

Services for Educationally Disadvantaged Children (Title I): Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) provides funds to raise the achievement of children who attend high-poverty schools. To the extent that newly arrived immigrant children attend Title I schools, they may be eligible to receive Title I, Part A services. Additional information about Title I, Part A programs is available here.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): IDEA funds may be used by LEAs to evaluate children of any background who are suspected of having a disability under IDEA. Once a child is found to be a child with a disability under IDEA, the funds may be used to provide special education and related services to the child consistent with the child's individualized education program and subject to IDEA's notice and consent provisions. Additional information about IDEA is available here.

English Language Acquisition Programs: States are required to set aside up to 15 percent of their Title III funds under the ESEA for subgrants to LEAs that have experienced a significant increase in immigrant students. Such funds can be used for a broad range of activities including improving instruction, providing tutoring and intensified instruction, and conducting community participation programs. Such funds may be used to serve newly arrived immigrant children regardless of whether such children are English Learners. Additional information about Title III is available here and here.

McKinney-Vento Act: The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act delineates educational rights and support for children and youth experiencing homelessness, including guaranteeing immediate access to a free, appropriate public education. Federal law identifies a number of living arrangements such as sharing the housing of others, in which inhabitants would qualify for purposes of the Act. Under McKinney-Vento, school districts must appoint a local liaison to ensure, among other things, that (1) children and youth eligible under McKinney Vento are identified; (2) that they immediately enroll in, and have a full and equal opportunity to succeed in, the schools of the district; and (3) they receive educational services for which they are eligible, and referrals to health care services, dental services, mental health services, and other appropriate services.

Unaccompanied children who are in HHS shelters would not be eligible for McKinney-Vento services, but children who are released to live with a sponsor may be eligible on a case-by-case basis under the law's broad definition, which includes youth who are living with family members in "doubled-up" housing, i.e., sharing the housing of other persons due to economic hardship or a similar reason. School districts should refer children they believe may qualify to the district's local liaison for further consideration and a determination of McKinney-Vento eligibility. More information about McKinney-Vento eligibility is available here [PDF, 1.4MB] Disclaimer and more information about the rights and services available under the McKinney-Vento Act is available here [PDF, 742KB] Disclaimer.

Migrant Education Programs (MEP): MEP funds are awarded to States under the authority of Title I, Part C of the ESEA. The MEP provides educational and supportive services to children who are migratory agricultural workers or fishers or who move with a parent or guardian who is a migratory agricultural worker or fisher. Newly arrived immigrant children may qualify as eligible migratory children on a case-by-case basis— provided they meet the program requirements and fit the program-specific definition of migratory child. Additional information about migrant education programs is available here.

National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition: This Clearinghouse provides non-monetary assistance in research-based strategies and approaches such as academic language development, and can also share data and models for the creation of Newcomer Centers to serve recently arrived immigrant students and English language learners. Additional information about the Clearinghouse is available here