Outrageous 'I Did Not Find the School That I Deserved': Refugees Sue Pa. School District
Six refugees are suing a Pennsylvania school district, claiming they were dumped in a disciplinary school and are being denied access to a quality education.
The students, who range in age from 17 to 21, are from Somalia, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burma.
They had hoped to enter McCaskey High School in Lancaster, Pa., but were sent to Phoenix Academy, an alternative high school for “underachieving” students in the district.
The refugee students, who are being represented by the Pennsylvania branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, also claim to have been “traumatized” by security measures at Phoenix Academy, including pat-downs and property searches.
“[The] Plaintiffs are refugees who have fled war, violence, and persecution from their native countries,” the lawsuit says. “Having finally escaped their turbulent environment to resettle in America, these young immigrants yearn to learn English and get an education so they can make a life for themselves.”
“Our clients have already experienced much trauma and loss before arriving in this country,” Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said in a statement. “Rather than helping them make the difficult adjustment by providing educational resources required by law, the school district has denied them an education completely or forced them into an alternative school, where they are often bullied and don’t learn.”
Somali refugee Qasim Hassan told the court through an interpreter, “I did not find the school that I deserved," PennLive reported.
Hassan and his fellow plaintiffs are seeking an injunction that would allow them to transfer to and possibly graduate from McCaskey High School.
Meanwhile, the school district claims that Phoenix Academy is better suited to the needs of older refugee students than the larger and more traditional McCaskey High School.