Language Barrier at Failing Buffalo School

8:50 PM, Jul 20, 2013   |    comments
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Lafayette High School, one of the two failing schools in Buffalo needs something specific to be successful. If you walk down the streets on the west side of Buffalo you'll notice storefronts changing, servicing the growing refugee population.

"So over here in the United States we get a better education, we get a better life," said.

About 1500 refugees came to Buffalo just this year and many of those families teenagers go to Lafayette High School.

Principal Naomi Cerre tells 2 on your side there's a language barrier. 70 percent of the students that go to Lafayette are 'english language learners' or not proficient in English. There's only three interpreters for all of them.

"Its heartbreaking and it's devastating," Principal Cerre said. "They have become what I call the invisible face."

It's mandated by the state that students not proficient in English take up to 3 credits of an ESL class, to learn the language. In some cases that's ineffective because there's 42 languages spoken at Lafayette -- some that interpreters don't know.


"It's a civil rights issue and I really want folks to know that" Cerre said." It's denying what students need to be progressive."



Lafayette High School asked for more resources such as 10 interpreters, but was denied by the Buffalo School District because of budget reasons.


We went to Superintendent Pamela Brown's office to ask about this. She was not available.


The number of students not proficient in English has jumped 40-percent in the last three years at Lafayette High School.


Johns Hopkins devised a plan to serve this growing population over the last year that deals with resources needed.

Lafayette High School's Principal wants Johns Hopkins to stay and put that plan in action.

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