Equity & Diversity

What’s a School Police Officer to Do in Arizona?

By Mary Ann Zehr — June 15, 2010 1 min read
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Correction: An earlier version of this post mischaracterized the 1982 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Plyler v. Doe as barring schools from determining students’ immigration status because of a potential “chilling” effect on their right to an education. That interpretation is offered by lawyers, but it is not in the court’s opinion.

Post starts here: USA Today has published a story about the lack of clarity regarding how police working in schools in Arizona should carry out Arizona’s new immigration-enforcement law, which goes into effect July 28.

EdWeek posted my story yesterday about this same topic. Some observers say the law, which compels police to inquire about the immigration status of people suspected to be illegally in the country during a “lawful stop, detention, or arrest,” is in conflict with the 1982 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Plyler v. Doe, which gives children a right to a free K-12 education regardless of immigration status. Many lawyers interpret the ruling as directing schools to avoid any attempts to determine the immigration status of a student because it might have a chilling effect on students’ right to an education.

But a spokeswoman for Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed the law on April 23, told me that the governor doesn’t believe the immigration-enforcement law is in conflict with Plyler v. Doe.

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