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Education

After Hurricane Maria, Ohio School Districts Have an Influx of Puerto Rican Students

A photo of an empty classroom.
ASHTON MARRA
/
IDEASTREAM

More than two months after Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico, a handful of the Big 8 school districts in Ohio say they’re seeing an influx of students in their public schools. 

The Cleveland Metropolitan School District is reporting the largest number of Puerto Rican students enrolled so far this school year, with more than 190 families seeking help since the Sept. 20th storm. Jose Gonzalez, who heads the district’s multicultural multilingual office, says CMSD began preparing for the students before the storm hit by first advising teachers and principals.

“You are about to receive a huge influx of English Language Learners that are coming from Puerto Rico, more than ever,” said Gonzalez

Language barriers are just one challenge for Ohio school districts, though. Gonzalez says students also carry emotional baggage.

Other Big 8 districts have enrolled new Puerto Rican students in smaller numbers. Youngstown has 50 students in its district, while cities like Columbus, Toledo and Dayton are reporting less than a dozen each.