Immigrant students in Lancaster seek place in public high schools

Written by The Associated Press | Dec 5, 2016 4:46 AM

Phoenix Academy is the School District of Lancaster's accelerated credit program for students at risk for aging or dropping out before earning a high school diploma. The school district is responsible for supporting English Language Learners enrolled at Phoenix, according to its contract with Camelot Education, the private company operating the academy. A recent lawsuit contends the district's ESL support is far better at the International School, a program for the least proficient English speakers at the local high school. (Emily Previti, WITF)

(Philadelphia) -- A federal appeals court is set to decide whether a public school district in Lancaster can send older immigrant students to an alternative high school.

Civil rights lawyers complain the Lancaster School District is sending the 17- to 21-year-old students to a disciplinary school with fewer academic opportunities.

Some of the students have been in refugee camps for years.

Several similar lawsuits have been filed around the country.

The issue is set for arguments thisafternoon in the Third U.S. Circuit Court in Philadelphia.

Lancaster has seen an influx of refugees and immigrants, in part through resettlement programs.

About 17 percent of the district's 11,000 students are English language learners and nearly 5 percent are refugees.

The district says it offers them cutting-edge services, including before-school and summer programs.

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