Immigrant advocacy group asking for more translators in SCCPSS

Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 5:35 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Several parents whose first language is Spanish are asking the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System to provide more translators in schools.

Parents expressed their concerns during Wednesday’s board meeting.

The immigrant advocacy group that has been asking for translators got what they wanted, at least for this meeting. Group members said they appreciated that step but say more improvements need to be made.

Leaders with Migrant Equity Southeast have been highlighting issues parents have been facing for months.

Many parents saying they need translators in schools because a language barrier is stopping them from knowing how their children are performing in school or even where they are.

“We’ve been hearing one parent in particular has talked about not knowing what grade her child was in based on the information from the schools in Columbia where her child attended before versus now in the high school level in the United States and she’s had a really hard time communicating with the teachers on that because of the lack of translation services,” Migrant Equity Program Director Maggie Miller said.

Through a translator, parent Leslye Arteaga says she came to advocate for people she knows going through similar problems.

“She said glory to God she hasn’t experienced something like that, but she sees a lot of people that she knows who go through that. She is trying to make it to where there’s not this brick wall between the teacher and the parent,” Arteaga says.

They also say they want the district to hire more bilingual teachers and staff. Next school year’s tentative budget includes money to introduce new English to Speakers to Other Languages teacher positions.

“There’s a lot of work to do but we’re really happy with the progress and we’re really happy with the school board so far with this.”

She says she hopes the board considers putting translators in schools that have many students still learning English.