State getting no answers on educating migrant children

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The group of state lawmakers overseeing how much taxpayer money is being spent on the border is set to meet Tuesday at the state Capitol.

Officials from the Texas Department of Public Safety, the National Guard, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Health and Human Services Commission and the Texas Education Agency will testify before a committee overseeing the fiscal impact of Texas Border Support Operations.

“I don’t like that the state of Texas is having to put any extra dollars toward this effort that is clearly the responsibility of the federal government,” said state representative and committee chair Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton.

The hearing will focus on the short-term and potential long-term costs and impacts to the state. One of Bonnen’s biggest concerns is education. He wants to know what is going to happen to the thousands of immigrant children crossing the border alone and who will end up paying for it.

“Are these immigrant children going to be enrolled in schools in Texas?” asked Gene Acuna, director of communications for the Texas Education Agency. The agency has not received any answers from the federal government.

State lawmakers will ask TEA members to explain Tuesday how they handled the influx of students after Hurricane Katrina.

“In Katrina you’re talking about minors that came over to the state with their parents,” said Acuna.

The Texas Education Agency has received a handful of letters from school superintendents across the state asking what to do if immigrant children show up at schools.

“What grade level do they start? How much do they know? Do they have to take the STAAR test and what will that do to a campuses accountability rating?” said Acuna.

Question upon question with just one month to go before the first day of school.

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