MJ Lee, Politico, November 2, 2011
Over a month after the nation’s toughest immigration law took effect in Alabama, hundreds of Hispanic students are still missing from the state’s public school system–and they are likely gone for good.
On Monday, a whopping 1,807 Hispanics in the state didn’t show up to school, according to the number of student absences provided to POLITICO by the Alabama Department of Education. This is about 800 more than what was considered a normal absentee count among Hispanic youth before parts of the state’s immigration law were approved at the end of September. On Tuesday, the number was 1,540.
The department’s spokeswoman, Malissa Valdes, said the absentee figure for Hispanic students has continued to hover hundreds higher than the pre-immigration law average following an initial spike of absentees after the law kicked in.
“If a student comes to school and they fill out a form of withdrawal, they are officially withdrawn, and the school would not mark them as absent. But if the student stops showing up, we will never know and they will continue to be marked as absent [until the end of the school year],” Valdes said.
She added, “Administrators expressed that [some] Hispanic students left giving the reason that their parents have decided to move. You could assume that would have some impact on the permanent loss of any students.”
Still, a few hundred absences in a state that has an estimated 35,000 Hispanic students is relatively small–certainly far less noticeable than the thousands of Hispanic students that didn’t show up in school at the end of September–and education officials in some counties say they have hardly noticed any lingering effects.