News & Views

A growing number of Philly parents can’t communicate with their kids’ schools. Here’s why.

HIAS Pennsylvania, a nonprofit that assists immigrants and refugees from around the world, first began seeing an influx of Qʼeqchiʼ-speaking Guatemalans in the 2021-22 school year, said Michelle Ferguson, education program manager. Last year, HIAS [PA] and other organizations serving immigrants assisted about 40 Indigenous students and caregivers. Although advocates said they didn’t know the reason, that number is already doubled, and the school year isn’t over.


“Attendance has been a challenge coming from lack of interpretation services,” said [Parisa Khoshnood, the youth education case manager for HIAS Pennsylvania], who was the one who received the panicked phone call when the 11-year-old was lost. “There are a lot of differences between the Guatemalan education system and the School District of Philadelphia.”

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