Residents concerned about Migrant Ed. Program

By Mo Montgomery

LUSD’s Migrant Education Program has been part of the district for decades, but recent frustrations from parents and students have led to residents asking the school board to take action.

A petition containing more than 300 signatures from parents and students was submitted to the LUSD Board at the March 15 meeting. LUSD Board members said they would look further into the issues brought up by community members.

The petition listed the following areas that they felt needed immediate attention

“Lack of Transparency: LUSD receives about $700,000 a year to run the Migrant Education Program n Region 24. Parents, including the Regional Advisory Committee (RAC), have not been receiving information on the allocation of funds for the last two academic years. Nor have they been asked for their suggestions on how funding should be allocated, as was previously the practice.

Consistency in the Migrant Ed. Counselor position: Since becoming a separate region (about six years ago), there has been a total of three counselors (high turnover rate). Prior to this, Mr. Ernie Flemate was the counselor for over 15 years. His consistency allowed for students and parents (families) to develop a relationship with him. As a result, hundreds of students have attended and graduated from not only high school, but also from colleges and universities.

Decision to Not Re-employ Ms. Perla Soria, Migrant Ed. Counselor: Ms. Soria, LUSD and Migrant Ed. Alumn, graduated from Lindsay High in 2003.

With the help of the Migrant Ed. Counselor she went on to seek an education at UC Berkeley and USC. Understanding her responsibility to give back, she chose to return to Lindsay to ensure that OUR students are given the tools necessary to succeed. She has helped and developed a relationship with hundreds of our students and parents. In addition, she has built partnerships with Higher Education institutions, community agencies and exposed hundreds of our students to the importance of education (i.e. college/university trips, college conferences, financial aid workshops, career advising, parent meetings). She is a true role model for our Migrant Ed. Students is committed, invested, and knows our community.

Lack of Training & Guidance for New Parents on the RAC: Parent involvement is a key component to the Migrant Ed. Program and its success. It is the program’s responsibility (and past practice) to empower/support and properly train parents to take leadership roles within the Migrant Ed. Program.

We, current Migrant Ed. Parents & Students, Alumns, Past Migrant Ed. Parents, & Lindsay community members, demand that the Lindsay Unified School District (LUSD) Board of Trustees investigate the concerns that we have about the Migrant Education Program n Region 24.”

Jose Lemus, an LHS graduate and former student of the Migrant Ed. Program spoke at the meeting. He expanded on his concerns in a separate interview.

“In the last six years there has been three different counselors at the high school,” said Lemus. “With a turnover rate that high the students are not developing a trusting relationship with their counselor and trust is a major part in the success of a student. The fact that a big percentage of the budget is eaten up by just one individual (The director) sounds disconcerting. The after school program was removed because of budget, but the director has such a high salary.”

Current students also voiced their concerns.

LHS junior Llisel Moreno-Martinez said, “My concerns with the Lindsay Migrant Program are that we are not being exposed to the same opportunities that we have been the last few years. For example we have only gone on three field trips this school year. This is something that has really grabbed our attention since we are wondering where all the money is going,” she continued. “Ms. Soria has personally earned not only my respect, but most important my trust. She has helped me by encouraging me to keep trying hard in school and motivating me to always try my best. It is really important that Ms. Soria is there to support all of us. In my opinion, it would be ridiculous if Ms. Soria was to leave, because she has put a lot of effort into her job. She has done more than what she’s been asked for.”

The same frustrations seemed to echo with more students.

“Some of my concerns with the Lindsay Migrant Education that we are not being exposed to enough trips and firing Ms. Soria,” said student Karen Moreno-Lemus. “We as first generation need more opportunities to get to know more colleges, for the reason that our parents didn’t went to college and they don’t understand the importance of going to college and getting a higher education.”

Parent Priscilla Ramos felt parents were being left out of the decision making process.

“Decisions are being made without consulting the committee, which in turn is affecting the students and migrant parents,” said Ramos. “In addition, we don’t have any events like there used to be before. There are also very few school trips that have been made to take the students to visit different universities or any school related events. Most importantly, we do not know how the migrant program funds are being used and what they are going towards.

Migrant Ed Program Parent and Fromer RAC member Teresa Valera said, “I want to know whether it is true that the Migrant program will run the same with or without a parent committee. I say this because the current Director of the program told us (those in the RAC) that the program did not have to have a parent committee. This issue is important to me.”

The Migrant Education Program originated through Title I authorization of Federal Law 89.10 approved in 1965. Because Migrant students needs are different than the needs of most students, special services are required. For this reason the Migrant Education Program was established as a separate entity from Title I in 1966.

Migrant Education Region 24 is a small and single district migrant region that resulted after the Migrant parents together with administration believed they could offer more and direct services to the migrant children of Lindsay. At any given time the program has anywhere from 1,500 to 1,700 children enrolled.

The Migrant Education program offers supplemental educational and health related services for students and families to offset the problems resulting from frequent movement and interrupted educational enrollment.

The program provides a safety net of services for migrant students in an effort to help them overcome obstacles to their education. The program has designed specific services to address the students needs that result from factors such as cultural and language barriers, interrupted education, social isolation, health problems and other conditions that undermine the opportunities for successful education and employment.

The Migrant Education Program designs and develops services for migrant children and their families. The goal is to strengthen their educational experience as well as to develop stronger connections within the community and support among family members themselves.

The services are designed, implemented and evaluated by the combined efforts of district, the regional office and the California Department of Education. Every effort is made to address the needs of migrant students and their families. Migrant education services focus in five areas: California Content Standards and Assessment Outcomes, Teaching and Instruction, Professional Growt, Home, School and Community Relations and Budget and Policy Development. The prorgam includes both the MEES and Out of School Youth programs as well.

Migrant Education (MEES) and outreach provided to migrant children between ages of 0-7. The focus of this program is to help parents help their children and prepare them for kindergarten.

Services are also offered to those students or non-students between the ages of 13-22 who have not received their High School Diploma or GED either because they dropped out of school, did not pass the CAHSEE or because they never enrolled. These youth are also entitled to all of the above mentioned services.

A child is considered migrant if the parent(s) or guardian(s) are a migrant worker that is employed in agriculture, fishing or related industries including food processing, and that has moved in the last 3 years to/from Lindsay with the intention to obtain employment in agriculturally related work. A family could also qualify if they leave the country because of a shortage of employment and later returns looking for agriculturally related work. The eligibility period of 3 years is established through an interview by a Support Service Assistant in the school district or region.

The interviews are conducted annually to confirm the families migratory status and to update any changes that have transpired. The next Lindsay Unified School District Board meeting will be held at 6 p.m. March 28 in the LUSD Board room. For more information, call 562-5111.

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