Families trying to register students sleep outside DeKalb schools headquarters

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STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. - Dozens of families with young children are sleeping outside to try to register their kids for school in DeKalb County.
 
Some of the families say they have been outside DeKalb County School Board headquarters for a couple nights in a row, but their child has been turned away once so many students are registered.
 
Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh said there were nearly 100 people lined up at the Stone Mountain headquarters by 4:30 a.m. Friday.
 
Vilma Lopez told Kavanaugh her 7-year-old daughter is a so-called “unaccompanied minor,” one of thousands of children who recently fled Central America and made their way to the U.S./Mexico border alone.
 
She said she has spent three nights outside the headquarters, arriving Thursday night at 9:30 p.m.
 
“I want the opportunity for my daughter to study here in this county, but yesterday I had to go back to my house without the space, because according to these people, it’s only 50 people per day,” the mother said with the help of a translator.

Lopez said she wants a better future for her daughter.

Not all of the children lined up to register are unaccompanied minors, Kavanaugh said.

Philippe Alexis said the school district told his wife, who showed up at 10 a.m. Thursday, she should try to arrive around 1 or 2 a.m.  Friday and sleep there to secure her spot. He said his two teenage sons came to DeKalb County from Haiti.

"It doesn't make sense to me," Alexis said. "At least they could have somebody talk to us."
 
DeKalb County responded to Kavanaugh's request for explanation around 7:30 a.m. Friday. The district says most students register at their schools, but immigrants, refugees and children of non-English speaking families must register at the headquarters so they can be evaluated.

The school district said the evaluation process takes time and their staffing only allows for 50- to 60 children each day.

The school district did not have a suggestion for the parents, but noted this is likely not related to the surge of unaccompanied minors. The district routinely consists of thousands of immigrant students, making up about 20 percent of enrollment.

Students return to school in DeKalb County on Monday.