Stoneleigh Emerging Leader Julie McIntyre spoke to The Philadelphia Inquirer about gaps in translation services for families with students in Philadelphia schools.
About a month after she arrived in Philadelphia from her native Guatemala, a mother went to the bus stop to pick up her son.
But her 11-year-old never got off the bus. And because the mother speaks Qʼeqchiʼ, an indigenous Guatemalan language, the staff at his Philadelphia School District school had no way to tell her what had happened — that the school had somehow lost him.
“On the day my child was lost, I was really scared and worried,” said the mother through an interpreter. She asked that her last name be withheld because of safety concerns. “I went to the school, but because there was no interpreter and I do not understand English or Spanish, I was not able to understand anything.”[….]
Advocates say they are happy to support families with individual translation when necessary, “but this is not a sustainable approach,” said Julie McIntyre, who works with newcomer immigrant youth at La Puerta Abierta, another Philadelphia nonprofit.