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Refugee Sisters Denied Enrollment at Modesto School

MODESTO -- Nargis Amini and her older sister, Morsal, thought everything would be fine before their move to Modesto.

Just one week prior they were at a public school in Turlock. Then they found out that Modesto City Schools' policy would not allow them to enroll at the Language Institute at Davis High School.

"For one week I was crying with my sister," Morsal Amini told FOX40.

The sisters are refugees. They immigrated to the United States in 2016 from Afghanistan, where, according to Human Rights Watch, girls struggle for an education.

But the two sisters are determined dreamers.

"To be [a] dentist. But I see if I can do it, like if I say [I] cannot do it, if it’s hard for me... I'd like to become a nurse," Morsal Amini said.

"I want to be [an] accountant because I like mathematics. I like chemistry, physics" Nargis Amini said.

They're also passionate about giving back.

"I suffered a lot of things in Afghanistan, too," Morsal Amini said. "So I know how it feels when the people help me. So, because of that, I really want to help the people."

The Modesto City School District issued a statement saying:

"We examine age and academic progress when considering how we can best assist students. Students that are 18 years old and credit deficient can earn their high school diploma in one of our adult or alternative education programs."

"So shocked. Why the school [has] denied us? Just show us what we should do," Nargis Amini said.

Also, because Afghanistan uses a different calendar their birth dates are listed as January 1 on their U.S. documents to avoid confusion, which would make them 18 and 19 years old. They are actually 17 and 18 years old. Although the state education code allows refugees younger than 21 to stay in school Modesto has not followed suit.

The Amini sisters say all they want is for the school district to allow refugees a chance to learn.

"Hoping they enroll us, they accept, because just the only thing we want is to survive in this country," Morsal Amini said.

Community advocates and the school district are working to find a solution. The sisters were given the option of taking classes online, but they say they learn faster with hands-on instruction.