Neighborhood has message for school enrolling refugee students - CBS46 News

Neighborhood has message for school enrolling refugee students

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(Source: WGCL) (Source: WGCL)
DECATUR, GA (CBS46) -

It began as one spontaneous act -- first, Sharon Johnson placed a homemade sign on the front lawn of the International Community School, and in less than 12 hours it became a neighborhood movement.

"I put it up in the middle of the night," said Johnson, "It was like a guerrilla thing."

After Johnson posted a picture to Facebook, her sign was joined by about fifty others, all expressing the same message.

"We want everyone to know they're welcome here, especially in this community," said Emily Holler. "When you see neighbors bringing signs, it just makes you feel united as one."

Half the students at this DeKalb County charter school are children of recent immigrants or refugees. The other half are children of people like Lauren Hise, lifelong American citizens who wanted their son or daughter to learn side-by-side with children from other cultures.

Hise said she appreciated what people who live near the school are doing for the elementary school students.

"I mean, we're all affected, whether we're immigrants, refugees, or Americans, we're all deeply affected by what's going on," said Hise.

The student body at the International Community School represents about 30 different nationalities, including four on the watch list: Iraq, Syria, Somalia and Sudan.

"It struck a nerve with people. They wanted to show the school how much they were loved and they stepped up. It was awesome," said Johnson.

But not everyone in the neighborhood made a sign for the school. Some people, like David Long, think the president's doing the right thing. It's his opinion the new immigration policy will help fight terrorism.

"If it does nothing but send a message, we need to do something. We've done nothing for so long, now we need to do something," said Long.

Teachers brought students outside to see the signs throughout the day, and took pictures of them holding a sign that said, "Thank you Medlock Park."

Employees of the school were not given permission to speak with news reporters on the subject.

DeKalb County School Superintendent, Dr. Stephen Green issued a generic written statement saying in part:

“I want to assure each of our students that we have a deep and full commitment to be culturally responsive to them. We strongly support the diversity of our school system, and we greatly value our role in supporting our immigrant population through the benefits of quality education.  This is a core belief."

Green did not specifically address the subject of the signs at the International Community School. As of Monday evening, all of the signs remained untouched, which might be taken as the district's passive approval of their existence.

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