Washington--Betty Castor, Florida’s commissioner of education, was rebuffed last week in her attempt to secure Education Department funds to deal with a massive influx of Nicaraguan refugees.
Emerging from a meeting with Secretary of Education Lauro F. Cavazos, Ms. Castor said the Secretary “really didn’t provide many alternatives for us.”
“He said we could apply for grants from Chapter 1 or other programs,” she said. “I really don’t feel that’s much of an alternative.”
Ms. Castor added that she and other officials intended to press their case for federal aid, and that Joseph A. Fernandez, superintendent of the Dade County Public4Schools, was likely to raise the issue in a meeting he has scheduled this week with President Bush.
“We are trying to bring our situation to the attention of as many people as we can,” she said. “We feel we are being ignored.”
Florida officials are seeking $20 million in refugee aid to help them provide instructional assistance and facilities for the estimated 10,000 new students who are expected to swell state schools this year. Most of these immigrants have settled in or near Dade County.
The officials are contending that federal aid is needed because the refugees have arrived in this country as a result of U.S. policy.--rr