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Immigrant children not enrolled in school, superintendent says

CALIFORNIA, Pa. — There are many children among a group of immigrants who have settled in Washington County, but none of them are going to school this fall.

There's a large group of Romanian immigrants who have moved to California Borough.

The superintendent has spent his entire summer working with federal and state agencies trying to figure out how to help the Romanian children enroll in school.  But with the language barrier and red tape, it's been a very difficult process.

The small community of Romanian families moved to a small corner outside the university’s campus last spring. That’s when the California Area School District's superintendent noticed the Romanian children weren't in school.


“We've heard 30, 50? We don't know,” said Superintendent Michael Sears. “It's an issue I was working over the summer, but not having any luck as far as contacting anyone that can help with us make that connection with the Romanian families.”

Just this month, the Department of Education connected Sears to an organization based in Edinboro that specializes in helping immigrant children.  The organization's director told Channel 11 its representatives will be in town for the first time on Sept. 5 and said this is the first time they've taken on something of this magnitude.

“I think these children are going to need immunizations before they can physically come into the schools and Intermediate Unit 5 will be able to help us with that,” Sears said.


Channel 11 went to the Romanian community on Tuesday and found many children playing, but few adults who spoke any English.

The superintendent is now hopeful a translator can help bridge the barrier.

“Things are starting to happen now, which I’m very grateful for,” Sears said.

He also said he's confident that, with help from the state, they'll be able to get a translator into this community and get the ball rolling in the near future. It just won't be in time for the start of the school year, which is Wednesday.