ALBANY, N.Y. October 27, 2014 - New York State United Teachers said today it fully supports the state's efforts to help school districts comply with the law and enroll students who are unaccompanied minors.
NYSUT President Karen E. Magee said the union wants to ensure that every child - regardless of their legal status - is properly enrolled in school and has an opportunity to learn. More than 4,200 students - mainly from Central and South America - have arrived in New York schools over the last nine months.
"Public education is a basic right. Children should not be victimized or discriminated against because of their immigration status in this country," Magee said. "We fully support all efforts to ensure that school districts are fully complying with the law."
NYSUT Vice President Catalina Fortino said helping school districts and teachers - with additional state funding, professional development and resources for parents, students and educators - should be a priority, even as the state ensures that districts are following proper policies and procedures.
"Many of these undocumented minors are coming to school with interrupted formal education. We must all work together to help them to succeed. School districts need to provide these students with bilingual education and/or ESL services, as well as academic intervention services and support from guidance counselors and social workers," Fortino said.
"We support this work by the attorney general's office and State Education Department to ensure school districts are following the proper policies and procedures, and will continue to advocate on behalf of our members, who must have the resources to meet the needs of these students," she added.
Fortino said NYSUT would work with legislators to draft bills providing fiscal relief to school districts experiencing influxes of unaccompanied minors. In addition, she said the union's Research and Educational Services Department would provide assistance to educators in school districts with large numbers of unaccompanied minors.
The state Education Department and the attorney general's office announced Thursday it was reviewing enrollment policies and procedures in a number of school districts - mostly on Long Island and in Westchester and Rockland counties - to ensure students were not being denied admission based on their immigration status.
New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.