SPLC offers guide on immigrant students’ right to public education
The Southern Poverty Law Center today released a guide designed to help families and advocates for immigrant children advocate for a student’s right to a public education.
Guide – Protect the rights of immigrant students to public education – explains the legal framework and the rights of immigrant children and families to enroll and participate fully in public schools. The guide offers resources, including a template letter, to help advocates contact the school if a child is prevented from enrolling.
The publication comes on the same week as the 39th anniversary of the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Plyler vs. Doe, a landmark ruling that all children living in the United States, regardless of their immigration status, have the right to attend public school. The right is protected by the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.
“All children living in the United States have the right to attend public school, regardless of race, national origin or preferred language,” said Jaclyn Cole, SPLC paralegal. “Yet despite a clear ruling from the US Supreme Court, immigrant children across the country, and particularly in the South, face barriers that prevent them from enrolling or staying in school. .
“Principals can take steps now, during the summer months, to review their requirements and enrollment processes to ensure that when students return in the fall, no children or their children return. family is excluded or prevented from registering and receiving the services to which they are eligible. . “
The guide explains that in some cases schools have refused enrollment of immigrant children or have imposed illegal documentation requirements such as a social security card as a condition of enrollment. Such requirements discourage families from enrolling their children in school and effectively block their access to public education, thus violating federal law.
In April 2013, more than a year after a federal court blocked a provision of Alabama’s anti-immigrant law, HB 56, that required schools to determine the immigration status of students, the SPLC found that many school districts in the state did not comply with state and federal laws when applying for Social Security numbers for enrollment. The state superintendent then issued a memo directing school districts to register all students and accept a wide variety of documents as proof of a child’s age and residence in the state. , as required by law. The SPLC led a similar effort in New Orleans in 2014.
Yet some schools and districts today continue enrollment practices that block access to immigrant students.
The guide also describes additional protections for students and their guardians under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, the Education Rights and Family Privacy Act, and the Law on the Education of Persons with Disabilities.
To access the guide and additional resources for families and advocates in Spanish, Vietnamese, Haitian Creole, and English, please visit: splcenter.org/plyler