Equity & Diversity

Ala. Puts Stop to Enrollment Policies That Discriminate Against Immigrants

By Lesli A. Maxwell — July 11, 2014 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Alabama education officials are ordering school districts across the state to adhere to new enrollment procedures that are meant to bar discrimination against students based on their immigration status or that of their parents.

In a letter last month to city and county superintendents, Thomas Bice, Alabama’s state superintendent, wrote that all districts are to follow a set of practices that make clear to students and parents that Social Security numbers and birth certificates may be requested but are not required as a condition for enrollment in school.

Bice’s order was in response to concerns raised in May by the Southern Poverty Law Center that 96 districts in Alabama violated federal law by, in many cases, not making it clear to students and families that providing Social Security numbers and birth certificates is voluntary.

The new enrollment procecures In Alabama also come on the heels of new federal guidance from the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice that spells out the legal obligations of school district officials to provide equal educational opportunities to all children who reside within district boundaries. Both federal civil rights law and the 1982 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Plyler v. Doe declare that states cannot bar students who are undocumented immigrants from enrolling in public school.

Bice wrote that districts must immediately use the new enrollment form and adhere to the procedures in the letter.

“No child is to be denied enrollment in any school or participation in school activities and programs based on the immigration [sic] of the child or the child’s parents/guardians,” he wrote.

This marks quite a change from just a few years ago when Alabama passed what was considered to be the nation’s most stringent anti-immigration law, driving large numbers of immigrant families to pull their children out of public schools and leave the state. Though the law orginally required school officials to ask newly enrolling students for their citizenship status and report that data to the state, that provision, along with many others in the law, have been permanently blocked by a federal court.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Equity & Diversity Reported Essay What the Indian Caste System Taught Me About Racism in American Schools
Born and raised in India, reporter Eesha Pendharkar isn’t convinced that America’s anti-racist efforts are enough to make students of color feel like they belong.
7 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Equity & Diversity Reported Essay Our Student Homeless Numbers Are Staggering. Schools Can Be a Bridge to a Solution
The pandemic has only made the student homelessness situation more volatile. Schools don’t have to go it alone.
5 min read
Conceptual illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Equity & Diversity How Have the Debates Over Critical Race Theory Affected You? Share Your Story
We want to hear how new constraints on teaching about racism have affected your schools.
1 min read
Mary Hassdyk for Education Week
Equity & Diversity Opinion When Educational Equity Descends Into Educational Nihilism
Schools need to buckle down to engage and educate kids—not lower (or eliminate) expectations in the name of “equity.”
3 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty