The D.C. agency that regulates D.C. Public Schools is planning to enforce a federal grant requirement that prevents illegal immigrants from enrolling in afterschool programs, officials said Thursday.
But D.C. Public Schools says it will not turn away any students; instead, it is seeking to strategically allocate afterschool funding. Melissa Salmanowitz, a DCPS spokeswoman, said the school system will ensure D.C. money is spent on students who can't prove their citizenship. By design, the federal money -- which requires proof of citizenship -- will be spent on students legally in the country.
The schools receive $6.8 million in federal grant money and about another $600,000 in city funding, according to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, which oversees DCPS and the public charter schools.
"DCPS has no intention of turning students or families away for afterschool programs or services," Salmanowitz said. "Parents who do not submit the citizenship documentation will still be permitted to enroll their children in afterschool."
According to OSSE, afterschool programs cost less than $1,000 per student, and there are about 200 undocumented children who use the programs.
Brandon Frazier, a spokesman for the Office of the State Superintendent, said federal grant money for afterschool has always required proof that students were both low-income and U.S. citizens. But OSSE wants to lose its status as a "high-risk grantee," as designated in the 1990s before OSSE was created. To shed that status, the agency is making sure it complies with all federal grant requirements.
Roxana Olivas, the director of the mayor's Office on Latino Affairs, said preventing illegal immigrants from using public aftercare would cripple immigrant families whom the city has been trying to support.
"A lot of our needy families don't have other options, as aftercare can be expensive," Olivas said.