ACLU Demands Nearly $2 Million in Attorneys’ Fees in Refugee Student Case

Superintendent Calls Demands Outrageous
Lancaster, PA -– The School District of Lancaster (SDoL) is calling the ACLU’s demand for nearly $2 million to settle its refugee student case outrageous and hypocritical.
In a September 22 filing, the ACLU and its partners demanded $1,882,000 in attorneys’ fees to settle the litigation over the group’s claim that 17-21 year old refugee students with little or no high school credit should attend McCaskey, the District’s main high school. The fees have continued to add up since then as the lawyers aggressively pursue their misguided case.
The District, which proudly serves about 600 refugee students per year, assigns over-age, under-credited students to its alternative school, Phoenix Academy. Fewer than 20 of the students assigned to Phoenix each year are refugees. Like other students, they are assigned there because the structure affords them an opportunity to graduate by age 21.
U.S. District Judge Edward E. Smith on October 11 denied an emergency motion by the ACLU to make the case a class action. In addition, Judge Smith has set July 2017 for the trial. That means the District will be able to continue to make educational decisions in the best interest of refugee students for the remainder of the school year without the ACLU’s interference.
In arguing against allowing 17-21 year old refugee students with little or no high school credit from attending McCaskey’s international school, the District notes that the program was created for newly arriving 9th-12th grade immigrants, 13-17 years old.
“Based upon the current and projected numbers expected in 2017, it is certain that the international school would be over-populated with new additions of 17-21 year olds, for whom the school and curriculum were never designed,” Dr. Rau said. “We must have the discretion to
assign these older under-credited students to Phoenix Academy or other buildings so that we can be prepared for the influx of new older enrollees that continue to arrive.”

SOURCE: School District of Lancaster press release