Refugee education lawsuit will cost Lancaster schools more than $600K next year
by Emily Previti, WITF
The city of Lancaster resettles a lot of refugees for a community of its size, and various stakeholders have long collaborated with the district for school-based programs designed to help entire families from this vulnerable population.
So when the School District of Lancaster was sued one year ago, officials argued that they — not the courts — knew best how to deal with their own students.
But Judge Edward G. Smith found last year that the School District of Lancaster had violated the federal Equal Educational Opportunities Act by delaying or denying enrollment of older refugee students and diverting them to a magnet school with less support for English Language Learners than the mainstream high school and its Newcomer Program designed for first-year ELLs (formerly known as the International School).
And now, the School District of Lancaster is looking at spending more than half a million dollars, less than 1 percent of its $208 million annual budget, as a result of the lawsuit, according to school officials.