Local school district faces problems with transient foreign students

Local school district faces problems with transient foreign students

Schools in the Mason school district are facing two serious problems: teaching and finances.  There has been a spike in international students throughout the Mason school district. Ever since 2011 both native Arabic speakers and secondary English-speaking students have increased. The problem isn’t that there are too many kids in the classroom, the problem is that these students either don’t speak English or speak English as a second language.  The most popular of these students are Arabic-speaking students.


Mason City Schools Superintendent Gail Kist-Kline was blunt but careful when explaining the problem.  She said this is a sensitive issue because most of the students and families are from foreign countries (mainly Saudi Arabia) and are given B-1/B-2 visitor visas. These visas, according to U.S. law, prohibit students from enrolling in US schools.  There is a catch however, a conflicting law prohibits school districts from asking students about their citizenship status.

Mrs. Kist-Kline desperately reached out for help. She first explained the situation to the D.A. (District Attorney) and he told her to “enroll the students”.  She later went to three different lawyers who came to the same conclusion as the D.A. She then went to the Ohio Attorney General’s office where she was told “no legal opinion can be given at this time.”

Financially Mason will suffer a huge blow.  Already given a million dollar budget, Mason schools will have to find enough tutors for the students and pay for the children’s health-care.  This is an estimated $522,000 dollars. That’s half of Mason’s budget gone, and with more students enrolling that price will continue to climb.

“Cincinnati Public Schools have noticed a significant increase in international, Arabic-speaking students.” (Cincinnati Enquirer)  Most of these students are transient, meaning their sometimes at school sometimes missing class.  An interesting fact is that most of the international students at both Mason and Cincinnati schools are patients at Children’s Hospital. That equals a grand total of 8% of the student population.

Cincy public

Some students speak English fluently, some speak little, and others don’t speak English at all. Fifteen year teaching veteran Michelle Hastings said that some of these kids have “zero” school experience while others truly have the desire to learn and want to be in school.  Finances aside, Mrs. Kist-Kline believes that school is the best place for the children.