• IDRA Newsletter • August 2014 •

The number of unaccompanied immigrant children arriving from Central America has caused a flurry of media attention, protests, calls for assistance, and political posturing. Unfortunately, much of the attention has been driven by misinformation and rumor. One fact is certain, as stated in the school opening alert on the next page, all school-age immigrant children must have access to educational services as required under Plyler vs. Doe. And all means all – regardless of immigration, refugee or asylum status.

Despite the unique facets of the latest group of recent arrivals, delivery of educational services for these children is required. Moreover, while unique circumstances are driving this migration from certain Central American communities, it may be that such students will be considered as refugees like their counterparts from other countries in recent years.

Costs associated with providing required educational services should not serve as a basis for failing to provide education. Educational services should be aligned with the needs of immigrant students and provided in regular school environments, such as newcomer centers and holistic support services (academic and specialized counseling and social support services) that respond to the unique needs of this vulnerable student population.

In Texas, for example, the Texas Education Agency issues an annual letter to school administrators that restates the requirement that all children between the ages of 6 and 18 attend school. The letter provides proof of residency procedures and provisions for homeless students, and states that “a student’s immigration status is not a permissible basis for denying admission to a public school.” IDRA has set up a web page with links to this letter, IDRA’s bilingual flier, and other resources in our resource center.

Comments and questions may be directed to IDRA via email at feedback@idra.org.

[©2014, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the August 2014 IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]