CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Hispanic students are growing by the thousands every year at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Hispanics make up 17 percent of students, and for many, English is a second language. So the district is reaching out to work with Hispanic families.
In the Chavez house they speak some Spanish, but also a lot of English. Seventh grader Amando Junior and his sister Alejandra know that's not the case with many Hispanic friends, so those students struggle at school.
"They don't understand it well because they don't really know the words that they're saying so they don't know how to answer it correctly without saying the wrong answer," said Junior.
Superintendant Heath Morrison knows it’s a problem, so on his 100th day on the job he came out to speak with Enlace, a Latin American community outreach group.
"That's a huge need for us to make sure that we are sending materials home that are translated that are respectful of the fact that not all the families we serve speak English as primary language," said Morrison.
Amando's mother, Maura, attended the meeting and works with the schools on behalf of other Hispanic families who don't speak English like she does.
"They're saying there's no welcoming feeling at the administration level so they don't feel like they have that ease to go in and speak to the teachers," said Maura Chavez.
One thing Dr. Morrison says they're doing is starting a new office of community engagement on December 1.
"Reach out to our parents in new unique ways, take advantage of them multiple offers of assistance we have throughout Charlotte Mecklenburg," said Dr. Morrison.
As a student, Amando has his own idea of how CMS could help his friends and the thousands of new Hispanic students every year.
"Maybe earlier in the day or after school they can set up a class and an English teacher can come help them," said Junior.
Morrison says they want to work with each school administration to have native Spanish speakers helping, as well as trained ESL teachers at each school.