Schools scramble to help teens who crossed border

Schools Scramble To Help Teens Who Crossed Border: In this photo taken Sept. 11, 2014, a student in the Accelerating Preliterate English Language Learners (A.P.E.L.L) class, taught by Lori Ott, of Millsboro, Del., at the G.W. Career Educational Center in Frankford, Del., looks over a worksheet aimed at teaching basic introductions in English. Emily Varisco/The Associated Press

American schools are scrambling to provide services to the large number of children and teenagers who crossed the border alone in recent months.

Unaccompanied minors who made up the summer spike at the border have moved to communities of all sizes, in nearly every state, Federal data indicate, to live with a relative and await immigration decisions. The Supreme Court has ruled that schools have an obligation to educate all students regardless of their immigration status, so schools have become a safe haven for many of the tens of thousands of these young people mostly from central America living in limbo.

Delaware’s rural Sussex County long has attracted immigrants, partly because of work in chicken factories, and soybean and corn fields. The district’s population is more than one-quarter Hispanic and for years has offered an early learning program for non-English speakers.

Still, officials were caught off guard by about 70 new students mostly from Guatemala — part of the wave crossing the border — enrolling last year, mostly at Sussex Central High School. The Indian River School District over the summer break quickly put together special classes for those needing extra English help.

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