Bay Area Schools Prepare For Influx Of New Immigrant Students From Central America

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — For some of the children from Central America who crossed the border without their parents in the past few months, their new life means starting school in the Bay Area.

Luis Aviles, an incoming freshman at Oakland International High School, came to the United States in February. His home country, Honduras, has the world’s highest murder rate. Luis said he and his family moved here for a better life.

While Luis is heading into very unfamiliar territory, he has plenty of company.

Since last June, 350 Central American immigrant students have come to Oakland Unified School District alone. About half of them don’t have parents with them and they normally stay with a sibling or other family.

“All of a sudden, they’re thrust into this unfamiliar situation and expected to make the transition to middle or high school. It’s extremely challenging,” said Troy Flint of the district.

The school district is trying to ease the challenge. A privately funded consultant will help students like Luis navigate legal hurdles. The first step is gaining refugee status, then the students can start getting social services.

In Oakland, school starts a week from Monday. The school district said it should hire the consultant in the next month.

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