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2,000 migrant students added to 74 Massachusetts school districts this academic year

Massachusetts schools pave own path for migrant students, says state education secretary
Massachusetts schools pave own path for migrant students, says state education secretary 03:05

PEABODY - The migrant crisis in Massachusetts has added about 2,000 students to schools in 74 different districts this academic year, according to the state. 

That means there are about 242 districts still not facing the issue of having a sudden, unexpected influx of migrant children in their systems.

WBZ-TV graphic CBS Boston

"A small handful of communities can't take on this burden and do it well," Peabody Superintendent Josh Vadala told WBZ-TV. His district is one of the 74. They've added 80 students to Peabody schools since September.

"We've been talking to the state. You know, enough is enough," Vadala said. "We've taken on our share and we are doing a good job. If you continue to pile on, we're worried that we're not going to be able to provide the same service and then it all falls apart."

Massachusetts response to migrant student crisis

"We believe deeply that every single student, regardless of circumstance, should have a high-quality education. Every student deserves that," Massachusetts Education Secretary Patrick Tutwiler told WBZ.

Tutwiler said the state is giving those 74 communities what they need, including $105 per student, per day.

"Language barrier is definitely a challenge. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) very quickly stood up translation supports. Mental health is also a significant challenge where we're seeing really clear manifestations of the hardships that families experience coming here (and) situations where students are not familiar with the typical school routines and that takes a lot of patience," Tutwiler said.

What's worked so far? 

The state has a task force to find solutions and determine what works, Tutwiler said.

"There are so many heartening stories around how districts have really met the moment and really transitioned and welcomed families in robust ways," he told WBZ.

Tutwiler specifically mentioned Peabody and what Vadala has done there. He has used the whole community to help the whole family, from field trips to experiences outside the classroom. 

Getting to know the families outside the school walls is paying off inside the classroom, according to Vadala.

"I've not seen models as robust as what we are doing. It's not a competition but we are doing our level best to meet the needs of families here," Tutwiler told WBZ. He said they key to all of this is more money from the federal government.

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