Contact Us

Jaimie Cogua

Coordinator of EL, Dual Language, Migrant and Refugee Education

(531) 299-9405


Refugee Education


Abdi Hussein

Somali Liaison


Al Khoune

Karenni/Burmese Liaison


Jean Claude Ashimwe

(Ki)Swahili/French Liaison


Kumar Gurung

Bhutanese/Nepali Liaison


Nibras Al-Kadhim

Arabic Liaison


Paw Ni Thaw

Karen Liaison


Elizabeth Ajongo


 Dinka, Sudanese, & Arabic Liaison


Trinh Tran


Vietnamese Liaison



Mohammad Sahil


Pashto, Dari, & Farsi Liaison      

For languages not listed, please contact the OPS Bilingual Liaison coordinator:

Javier Rodriguez-Torres at 531-299-9583.

If a bilingual liaison or contracted interpreter is not available, please use:

Certified Languages International (800-218-4906) for immediate over-the-phone interpreting services.

Students should never be used as interpreters.


Person who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.

Special Immigrant Visa (SIV):

Person who worked with the U.S. Armed Forces or under Chief of Mission authority as a translator or interpreter in Iraq or Afghanistan

Asylum Status:
A form of protection available to persons who:
- Meet the definition of refugee
- Are already in the United States, or
- Are seeking admission at a port of entry

For more information on refugees and the federal U.S. resettlement program, please visit: United Nations High Commission for Refugees: Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR):

For local and cultural information, please visit:


Frequently Asked Questions

What questions can you or can't you ask to see if a new family may be a refugee family (new arrival and/or secondary migrant)?

All school age children in Nebraska are not only entitled to a free public school education, they are legally obligated to be in school.  Public schools cannot ask the immigration status of a student or guardian.  Public schools cannot ask for a social security number.  We can ask country of birth, race, previous education history, and primary language/s spoken in the home.

What languages are spoken by refugees arriving in Nebraska?

Many refugees speak multiple languages, but OPS only requests and tracks the primary language(s) spoken in the home.  The larger refugee language groups include:

  •  Burma (135 languages) including: Karen (Pwo and Sgaw), Burmese, Karenni, Chin (Hakha and Matupi), Kachin, Mon, Shan and Rakhine
  • Sudan and South Sudan (500 languages): Arabic, Nuer, Dinka, Acholi, Masalit
  • Somalia: Somali and Mai Mai are the main two languages
  • Bhutan: Nepali
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo (250 languages): Kiswahili, French, Kikongo, Lingala, Tshiluba
  • Iraq and Syria: Arabic, Kurdish

What markers might indicate a family who are secondary migrants (refugees resettled in another city who have moved to Omaha)?

  • Previous U.S. school enrollment records
  • Enrolling themselves without a resettlement agency caseworker or community assistance

What professional development exists for staff working with refugees?

  • OPS ESL Fall Conference (Oct. 20th, 2018)
  • Refugee Specialist and Bilingual Liaisons available to present to staff upon request
  • Minnesota Humanities 
  • for self-education
  •  Community culture events such as World Refugee Day

What markers should the placement office look for to follow up with a case?

  • • Country of birth 
  • • Primary language spoken in the home 
  • • If a caseworker or community interpreter is assisting the family with enrollment
  • • I-94 or green card being used as substitute birth certificate