Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal wants the federal government to pay the state more than $1 million to cover the cost of educating undocumented children placed there.
In a letter sent to Education Secretary Arne Duncan this week, Huppenthal chastised the federal government for not only failing to secure the border, but then also placing undocumented children with sponsors or relatives within the state. That issue became a sore spot among governors, with several writing letters to the administration or making public statements asking for more information about placements within their state.
“Having to pay for the tremendous educational costs associated with the federal government’s failure to secure the border is not new to Arizona taxpayers or Arizona schools,” he writes in the Wednesday letter. “What is new, though, and what is unprecedented, is the federal government’s actions to relocate at least hundreds of unaccompanied minors, mostly school-aged teenagers, who have illegally crossed the border into other states, to Arizona’s cities and towns, where they will attend Arizona schools.”
Some 37,477 undocumented children have been placed with sponsor families from the start of the year through the end of July, according to federal data. Arizona has received 203, one more than the number Huppenthal cites in his letter to determine the amount of his request. Average state funding per pupil is $5,082, he notes, which multiplied by the number of undocumented children equals $1,026,564 in spending.
“It is unclear whether additional unaccompanied minors will be placed with Arizona sponsor families in the coming months,” he wrote. “If so, federal funds should also accompany those minors.”