Judge Who Ordered Texas to Educate Undocumented Students Dies

By Mary Ann Zehr — October 19, 2009 1 min read
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U.S. Senior District Judge William Wayne Justice, who more than a quarter century ago ordered Texas to educate undocumented children, died on Oct. 13, according to an Associated Press story that I just read today (hat tip to Colorin colorado).

After Mexican immigrants filed a lawsuit in Tyler, Texas, in 1977, Judge Justice ordered Texas school districts to provide a free K-12 education for undocumented children. Appeals in the case led to the 1982 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Plyler v. Doe, which ruled that all school districts are obliged to give children who reside in this country a free education, regardless of their immigration status.

In another case affecting children from immigrant families, Judge Justice ruled just last year that Texas had to revamp programs for English-language learners at the secondary level. An appeal by the state to that decision is pending.

Update: The Austin American Statesman published an article this month about Judge Justice’s legacy.

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