Texas School District Prepping To Send Teachers To Migrant Shelters

Neetu Chandak | Contributor

A Texas school district is prepared to send 19 bilingual teachers to migrant shelters as school leaders feel obligated to instruct illegal immigrant children.

The San Benito Consolidated Independent School District’s (CISD) superintendent agreed with a local migrant shelter to provide hundreds of computers and mobile classrooms, according to The Associated Press Saturday.

Many local officials were willing to offer their services at the shelter because they felt required to teach any child, though the Texas Education Agency (TEA) said the legal obligation to educate children in detention centers was the federal government’s responsibility, The AP reported. Local districts, as a result, would be offering their services voluntarily.

San Benito CISD planned on counting migrant children as part of the school’s official enrollment so the district could qualify for $2.8 million in state funding to help recover costs for the teachers, the laptops and the nearly 600 Chromebooks that would be provided on the federally contracted site.

Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund President Thomas Saenz said the children should be able to attend public schools instead of inadequate shelter schools.

“It’s not a time for amateurs, and some school districts are frankly amateurs in dealing with short-term incarcerated youth after trauma,” Saenz said, according to the AP.

While San Benito CISD had an agreement with Southwest Key — the largest contractor for running migrant shelters — to start the initiative in late August, the plan cannot be launched, as TEA officials were looking into the legality of the activities.

A request was sent to TEA to check whether charter or public school can provide these services and receive state funding, according to Southwest Key Vice President of Education Services Sal Cavazos. A court ruling is expected next week.

Cavazos said the shelters already provided educational services, as federal law requires children to have six hours of structured learning time.

“The interest in partnering with school districts or charter schools is to provide even more resources,” Cavazos told TheDCNF.

Cavazos confirmed that Brownsville Independent School District and a charter school were also working with Southwest Key.

Southwest Key created unaccompanied minor shelters after the 1997 Flores Agreement was passed, which required the government to provide shelters for migrant children along with other guidelines for detention and release of children in immigration detention centers. (RELATED: Federal Judge Rejects Trump’s Request To Change Catch-And-Release ‘Loophole’)

The Flores Agreement has been under fire in the Trump administration for it’s “legal loopholes,” that forces the government to treat family units differently from single, adult illegal immigrants.

Texas Education Agency, MALDEF and San Benito CISD did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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