They are Europe's Least Wanted – reviled for their unorthodox ways, hounded by white supremacists. Now the sudden arrival of Roma "gypsies" in Ontario has teachers here grappling to connect with some of the most perplexing students in the world.
With no English, limited education and an often shaky regard for school, the wave of Roma children give fresh urgency to the term "at-risk." Schools across Toronto and Hamilton, caught largely by surprise, are rushing to educate staff, hire more ESL teachers and find Hungarian and Czech interpreters for everything from report cards to welcome kits.
"We've got major problems with this wave of students and we need help – we've had more than 100 kids show up this fall and our staff are scrambling," said Trustee Irene Atkinson at a recent crash course on Roma culture organized by the Toronto District School Board, one of several this fall in Toronto and Hamilton.
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