Utica City School District Seeks Case Dismissal

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The Attorney General suit filed against the Utica City School District claims the Proctor High School routed immigrant and refugee students away from the school to separate programs.

Don Gerace who is the attorney representing the Utica City School District says, “With respect to the allegations in the complaint, there’s no allegations of specific students, names, times when they were supposedly denied entry into proctor. And we deny those allegations anyway.”

And with respect to the two programs that were eliminated, both are voluntary programs at the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees and Oneida-Herkimer-Madison Boces. The State Attorney General also claims proctor refused to admit any students over the age of 17 over the past several years,  but according to Gerace, those claims are patently false.

“Our enrollment records show that we’ve enrolled approximately 35 immigrant students each year, for the past five years. We currently have in excess over 200 students at proctor that are immigrant students over the ages of 17, actually 17, 22 and 23 because we’ve allowed students to stay beyond 21 years even though we’re not legally required to do that.”

Under State law, all districts are under the observation of the State’s Education Department, and it’s Commissioner Mary-Ellen Elia.  If there were any problems, those offices would contact the district to take any corrective action

“That has not been done in this case, we have never received any direction from the State Education Department regarding complaints by parents or students regarding the ESL program, or directed by the State Education department to take corrective action, based on any complaints.”

A spokesperson for the Attorney General’s office said they are looking forward to pursuing their case and vindicating the rights of immigrant students here in Utica.
However, according to Gerace, by suing the district, New York State is essentially suing itself because a school district is a political subdivision of itself.

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