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Hispanic enrollment drops amid immigration arrest fears, SCS superintendent says

August 23, 2017
Daniel Connolly
Commercial Appeal

Hispanic student enrollment in Shelby County Schools appears to have dropped slightly due to immigration arrest fears, Superintendent Dorsey Hopson told the school board Tuesday.

“Some of our schools where they have a heavy Hispanic population, some of the numbers, reliable numbers, are down,” Hopson said.

“And so the charter (school) numbers that we have are not up. So you know, it just suggests the kids are just staying home.”

He didn’t mention specific numbers and said the school system should have more data next week.

In response to highly publicized immigration arrests in July, the schools have made several efforts to keep immigrant parents from avoiding schools, including making statements that students’ data are safe. Volunteers came to heavily Hispanic schools on the first day of class and welcomed students.

Board member Teresa Jones has now proposed a resolution backing immigrant families.

Board members talked about the resolution during a work session Tuesday and are expected to vote on it at a meeting next week.

Jones said she’s individually assured people that the school system supports immigrant families. “But I would like the board to speak as a unit,” she said. Several board members expressed support Tuesday for her resolution backing immigrant families – chairman Chris Caldwell asked if she’d accept additional sponsors.

The superintendent said the resolution could help the ongoing process of easing fears, and praised Jones for proposing it.