Decision Days Away In Lancaster Refugee Case

Aug 23, 2016


Qasim Hassan (left) and Khadidja Issa (center) leave federal court in Easton after testifying against the School District of Lancaster.
Credit Emily Previti / WITF

Five full days of testimony wrapped up Monday in the lawsuit against the School District of Lancaster.

The case claims six student refugees were denied enrollment altogether or placed at Phoenix Academy, a magnet school with an accelerated credit program where they allegedly didn't get adequate support learning English.

They’re seeking admission to Lancaster’s mainstream McCaskey High School.

McCaskey’s year-long International School program gives two hours of direct English language instruction every day to the least proficient students. They stay together as one class for other subjects taught in English.

Students suing the district went to Phoenix Academy, where they got just 80 minutes of direct English instruction and were immersed with native speakers for other subjects.

A bilingual expert testified Phoenix’s program is detrimental to students, like refugees, with limited English proficiency and an interrupted or nonexistent formal education history.

Read more of this report on the site of our partner, Keystone Crossroads