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Oakland Unified’s unaccompanied minors: One year later

LA School Report | October 21, 2015

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By Jasmine Garsd

It’s been a year since thousands of unaccompanied minors surged into the U.S., overwhelming some school districts. These children, many of whom don’t speak English and have lived through violence, trauma and abuse, pose a serious challenge to schools. Some districts weren’t ready. Oakland, Calif., was.

It was spring of 2014, well before the headlines had begun, when teachers at Oakland Unified realized something was wrong. A lot of students were missing class regularly — and not just playing hooky.

Ariana Flores now supervises the unaccompanied minors in Oakland and says the district had an aha moment. “Once they looked into it a little bit more, they realized that [the students] had immigration court dates,” she explains. “They started talking to students and realizing they were unaccompanied minors.”

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