Some Deer Park ISD parents are demanding bilingual services at all schools

DEER PARK, Texas (KTRK) -- A group of parents from Deer Park ISD are calling on district representatives to make bilingual services available at every school. This morning, we listened to the parent's concerns and took them to the district.

Some parents say they are upset because they shouldn't have to take their children to a school 30-40 minutes away to get bilingual help for their children. The district says they have three centralized schools that provide the services for students in Pre-K to fifth grade. The bilingual Pre-K program is federally funded.

"We don't offer bilingual services at all campuses," said Deer Park ISD Director of Communications Matt Lucas.

That's what some parents say is concerning to them. Parents said they wanted to see a change in a news conference on Friday morning.

"Our children are being segregated. They are not being put in the schools that they belong to. We have schools near our house that I can walk to and walk my children to the school, and we can't do that because they speak Spanish," said Parkwood Elementary parent Susana Caceres.

Caceres says to get help in Spanish, her Pre-K child needs to attend Parkwood Elementary and her 7-year-old to San Jacinto Elementary school. The district says the decision is based on campus figures.

"The numbers simply vary from elementary campus to elementary campus. We may have just a handful of kids on one campus and a larger number on another campus. Because of that, you logistically can't afford to hire all the staff you would need to hire to have a successful program for every campus when the numbers of students vary so much," said Lucas.

Activists for Latino rights believe the money needs to be redirected.

"What do we think is failing at Deer Park ISD? The fact is that they're not using funds directly. Every school under the U.S. constitution should have the same exact accommodations for any child that goes into that school," said Executive Director of FIEL, Cesar Espinosa.

So who gets picked to go to the schools from Pre-K to grade 5 that cater to students who aren't fluent in English?

The Deer Park ISD bilingual program director says that in Texas, all districts are required to give the same exam to determine if a student qualifies as an English Learner.

They said they determine if a student needs extra help, and then a parent has the "final" decision to enroll them in the bilingual services program based on these exams.

Caceres and other parents feel their children were given the short end of the stick by assigning them to Parkwood Elementary. They say there are rats at the schools.

The district confirms that rat droppings have been found over the last few weeks. Along with the City of Pasadena Health Department, they say they're working to fix the problem.

For updates on this story, follow Daniela Hurtado on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.