English/Spanish barrier being addressed in local schools

OZARK, Ala. (WTVY) — The federal government is saying that people who have a poor grasp of English were denied services in Alabama, by the child welfare system.

The language barrier is a problem in the Wiregrass, one that is slowly being worked on.

Rich Lopez is an advocate for the Hispanic community.

He says, "We want to earn our way, we don't want anything given to us."

When children come to the US they often need help with English, a bridge between Spanish and English.

Dr. Rick McInturf with Ozark City Schools says they are working on that bridge every day.

McInturf says, "Every student that enrolls in school has to fill out a language survey."

The survey helps the school system figure out how much help students need.

McInturf says, "Every student is guaranteed free and appropriate education."

Once they figure out the students levels, they work to get them the help, whether it’s being put in the English class or a one on one tutor.

After five years, the students can leave the English language program.

Lopez says, "I mean, you can imagine being in a country that’s new and not knowing the language, there is no point of reference."

Lopez says the Hispanic population is growing locally, with younger kids picking up English quickly.

McInturf says, making sure all students all get a great education, is what they strive for.

After students leave the EL program in school, they do get follow up's to make sure they are retaining the language.