Indian River School District Voices Concern Over Immigrant Child - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Indian River School District Voices Concern Over Immigrant Children

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GEORGETOWN, Del. - In a Monday school board meeting, the Indian River School District voiced concern over the 117 immigrant children who are now being housed in Delaware as they wait for their deportation hearings. Indian River has the largest hispanic population in Sussex County, and it's board members said the newcomers could mean problems for the school district. 

School board member Donald Hattier is the one who recommended this discussion be put on the meeting's agenda. He said there are still a lot of unknowns about the placement of these children, which he considers troubling. 

"We don't know," he said. "It's a question mark." 

Hattier said these immigrant children, who are being housed with family members in Delaware, create problems for the school district in both cost and over-enrollment. 

"When you start injecting lots and lots of unknowns in the system how can we plan for it," he said. 

The biggest question raised at the meeting was about how many of the 117 students would be coming to the Indian River School District. As of now the only information released by federal government is that congregate number of children housed in Delaware. 

"The Administration reported to us that, as of Tuesday, 117 of the unaccompanied minors had been placed with families in Delaware," said Gov. Jack Markell in a letter to state lawmakers last week. "The USHHS does not disclose the identity or location of these families to protect the privacy of the families living here and the children."

Hattier said finding out the number of students in the Indian River School District will be essential to the planning process. He said the school district will face higher costs if the students enlist in high numbers. Without any data on how many students will actually come to Indian River, he estimated the district could see an increase of up to $1 Million. 

"We're being forced to withdraw our resources from all the kids who are already here," he said. "Who earned this right to put it somewhere else to keep the federal government happy. It's not fair." 

Markell said as of now these costs will not be paid for by the federal government, meaning much of the costs of providing services will go to the state and the school districts. 

"The way the system works right now is once these children leave the federal custody," he said. "Once they leave these federal facilities and end up with family members in the states, the federal government no longer has any financial responsibility to help them. And we think that's something that should be changed."

Nationwide approximately 57,000 children and teenagers have been apprehended crossing the border from Central American countries in just about 9 months. Most of these children come from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. 

In Georgetown, outside El Mercado, WBOC caught up with mother Brenda Castillo, who immigrated from Guatemala 11 years ago. She said that many of these immigrants are here to find a better life.

"It's all about the kids," she said in Spanish. "To have a better life. For the hope of a new life." 

Castillo said she would rather see these kids not be deported all together, but said that if they are to be sent back, they should at least be taken care of while they're here. 

"It's important that while they are here that they are treated well," she said. "Because they're just innocent kids. They don't have any guilt at all. They should be helped and get better treatment." 

Superintendent of the Indian River School District Susan Bunting said over-enrollment has already been a problem for the school district. She said they hope to add two more classrooms to the GW Carver Center that would be used for English as a Second Language students. 

Meanwhile in Maryland, Gov. Martin O'Malley held a second meeting with faith leaders in Baltimore on Monday to discuss how the state should handle the ongoing crisis. According to the federal government, more than 2,200 children are living with families in Maryland.

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