Federal civil rights investigation takes aim at Shelby County Schools

Federal civil rights investigation takes aim at Shelby County Schools

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A federal civil rights investigation headed up by the U.S. Department of Education is currently focused on Shelby County Schools.

Federal agents are digging into practices at SCS that might be keeping children who are fleeing violence in Central America from getting into high schools.

The Exchange Club Family Center filed the first complaint against SCS. The complain said migrant teens were being denied access to education.

Attorneys said instead of being allowed in classes, the students were being sent to an English program for adults, which has since been shut down.

"It is having an impact--I'm sure in their communities--that is going to be devastating," Keith Williams with Memphis-Shelby County Education Association said. "You may have the case where only the children can communicate well and get things done. Parents cannot."

Williams said SCS cut the English program because of budget concerns.

"Now those students are faced with going into the various schools of the district and actually fending for themselves without the support of the ESL teacher. That budget too has been cut," Williams said.

Williams said 2016-2017 will be the first year without the program. He said the district is required to provide education for all children, regardless of budget cuts.

He said now the students are left to fend for themselves .

"They are anticipating that it will be a far stretch and a strain on children that we serve who are immigrants--who will not have ESL teachers," Williams said.

The Exchange Club declined to comment on the complaint.

Shelby County Schools issued the following statement:

"It is our practice not to comment on the existence/nonexistence of any inquiry from the office of civil rights."

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