District Court Orders Lancaster School District to Enroll Refugee Kids in Appropriate Public Schools


On Friday, August 26, 2016, the United States District Court for the Eastern District granted a preliminary injunction in favor of the plaintiffs in Khadidjah Issa et al. v. The School District of Lancaster. The case, brought by the Education Law Center and the ACLU of Pennsylvania on behalf of several refugee kids, argued that the Lancaster School District violated both State and Federal law by failing to enroll the children in a timely manner and failing to enroll them in an educational program appropriate to their educational needs.

Refugees kids who are living in camps, and those who are forced to flee to other countries are often denied education. Additionally,  refugee children and youth need access to English as a Second Language (ESL) classes in order to achieve academically. Because of these deficits, newly arrived refugees require placement in schools that can accommodate English Language Learners (ELLS).

Judge Edward G. Smith swiftly ruled in the refugees’ favor on the preliminary injunction showing in a sixteen page opinion that the District not only clearly violated state and federal law but also violated their own policies when failing to timely enroll the kids and sending the kids, once they were enrolled, to an academic program which included minimally effective ESL programming. Read the Memorandum Opinion and Order here. 

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