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LORAIN – Lorain Schools Superintendent Jeff Graham took a step to build a stronger relationship with the district’s Spanish-speaking families with his State of the Schools address Tuesday morning.

Graham, who has been in Lorain since 2015, detailed the district’s wrap around services as well as impending implementation of a CEO after the schools failed to meet certain state testing benchmarks completely in Spanish.

Listen to the speech HERE.

“It’s a statement that our folks come into the buildings every day and they struggle because there isn’t someone readily available that can speak the same language as them,” Graham said. “They can’t readily communicate with the people in our buildings and I’m sorry.”

Graham addressed the communication gap in his speech, saying he wanted to apologize that the State of the Schools hadn’t been offered in Spanish before and it was long overdue.

“One of the things we pride ourselves on is that we live in an ‘International City,’ ” Graham said in Spanish. “And we have made it our mission to be more respectful to our Hispanic and Latino heritage. You represent more than 40 percent of our resident, families and children who choose to live in Lorain. From now on, support for our Spanish-speaking population will not be an afterthought.”

El Centro de Servicios Sociales Executive Director Victor Leandry said Graham is taking steps in the right direction to better include Spanish-speaking families but it was well overdue.

“It’s important for the district to realize that Spanish-speaking parents aren’t getting involved because they can’t, not because they don’t want to,” he said. “This is the language they speak at home so a lot of the times, it’s what they know and are most comfortable with.”

Leandry said Graham, who had been practicing the Spanish version of the speech since Thursday, had good pronunciation and he hopes the gesture is seen as an invitation to get more parents involved.

One current avenue is the Padres Comprometidos program, which is offered from 10 a.m. to noon on Mondays and from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on Wednesdays at El Centro, 2800 Pearl Ave.

“At our meeting yesterday, we actually had parents prepare questions for this event,” Leandry, who has a daughter in the high school, said. “We want to get parents more involved.”

Graham is scheduled to deliver an the speech in English at noon.

Read Wednesday’s Chronicle-Telegram for more information.

Contact Katie Nix at 329-7129 or Follow her on Twitter at @KatieHNix.

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