Published 4:04 pm Wednesday, August 13, 2008

By Staff
Questions legal status of students
Staff Writer
Beaufort County Community College does not allow illegal immigrants in classes for academic credit, but does let them register for basic skills classes, the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners was told Tuesday night.
The statewide board that governs community colleges will meet Friday to consider changing the statewide policy that bans them from academic credit programs.
David McLawhorn, president of the community college, told the commissioners that it’s the community college’s policy to ask students registering for classes whether they are in the country legally. Those who check the box marked “undocumented” are counted, but allowed to take the free classes along with everyone else, he said.
The courses include high school equivalency degree programs and classes designed to help immigrants become literate in English. Six students were taught at the college over three semesters in 2007 and 2008, McLawhorn said.
Commissioner Hood Richardson took exception to the name of the classes designed to teach English to speakers of foreign languages.
He said that instead of English as a second language, the classes should be branded English as a primary language because the people taking the courses have moved to America. He also said that the course had been named by liberals.
County Manager Paul Spruill tried to defuse the situation.
But Richardson maintained that perpetuating the nomenclature was as bad as inventing it. He compared the issue to standardized forms at the community college that give respondents the option of identifying themselves by race.
He also said the college should, if it is allowed to, require two forms of identification to register for classes at the college.
In the end, the county staff was asked to research whether there is a law or statewide policy prohibiting the college from requiring identification for basic skills classes.
For more coverage of Tuesday’s meeting, see tomorrow’s issue of the Washington Daily News.