ANAHEIM — Federal officials have refused to help the Anaheim Union High School District bill foreign countries for the cost of educating illegal immigrant children.
The school board was notified of the government's decision in a March 24 letter from the Justice Department, school board President Harald Martin said Friday.
A resolution that the board passed 4 to 1 in 1999 demanded that the Immigration and Naturalization Service count the number of illegal immigrants attending district schools and identify their native countries.
It also asked the federal government to reimburse the school district for the cost of educating the children and negotiate with the countries to recover the funds.
According to Martin, Justice Department officials said the government had no legal standing to bill foreign countries for education costs incurred by their citizens in the United States or to help local school districts get reimbursements.
He estimated that about 20% of the district's students, or about 6,000, are illegal immigrants, and that the cost of educating them is $30 million annually.
The board approved the resolution because of "the crunch of too many people in too little space in our schools," Martin said.
Although disappointed by the Justice Department's refusal, he vowed to press the board to consider other options.