Federal News in Brief

Letter Reminds U.S. Schools of Obligations to Immigrants

By Mark Walsh — May 17, 2011 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Obama administration issued a letter this month reminding school administrators nationwide of their obligation under federal law to enroll children regardless of citizenship or immigration status.

“Recently, we have become aware of student enrollment practices that may chill or discourage the participation, or lead to the exclusion, of students based on their or their parents’ or guardians’ actual or perceived citizenship or immigration status,” says the May 6 letter.

It cites Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin, among other factors, by public schools. It also cites Plyler v. Doe, the 1982 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that held that a state may not deny access to a basic public education to any child, whether that child is present in the country legally or not.

The letter is signed by Russlynn Ali, the assistant secretary for civil rights in the U.S. Department of Education; Charles P. Rose, the Education Department’s general counsel; and Thomas E. Perez, the assistant attorney general for civil rights in the U.S. Department of Justice.

Along with its accompanying documents, the letter suggests that some elementary and secondary schools are discouraging the enrollment of undocumented immigrant children by asking about their immigration status, denying enrollment to those with foreign birth certificates, or denying enrollment to children whose parents decline to provide their Social Security numbers or race and ethnicity information.

The Education and Justice departments stress that schools may require proof that a child lives within district boundaries, but that schools may not ask about a child’s immigration status to establish residency. Schools may also ask for birth certificates to establish a child’s age, but may not bar enrollment because of a foreign birth certificate. They may ask for children’s Social Security numbers as student identifiers, but should inform parents that disclosure is voluntary and may not deny enrollment if parents refuses.

Schools “may wish to review the documents your district requires for school enrollment to ensure that the requested documents do not have a chilling effect on a student’s enrollment in school,” the letter states.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the May 18, 2011 edition of Education Week as Letter Reminds U.S. Schools of Obligations to Immigrants

Events

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.
Sponsor
Data Webinar
Education Insights with Actionable Data to Create More Personalized Engagement
The world has changed during this time of pandemic learning, and there is a new challenge faced in education regarding how we effectively utilize the data now available to educators and leaders. In this session
Content provided by Microsoft
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.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Accelerate Learning with Project-Based Learning
Earlier this year, the George Lucas Educational Foundation released four new studies highlighting how project-based learning (PBL) helps accelerate student learning—across age groups, multiple disciplines, and different socio-economic statuses. With this year’s emphasis on unfinished
Content provided by SmartLab Learning
School & District Management Live Online Discussion Principal Overload: How to Manage Anxiety, Stress, and Tough Decisions
According to recent surveys, more than 40 percent of principals are considering leaving their jobs. With the pandemic, running a school building has become even more complicated, and principals' workloads continue to grow. If we

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

Federal What Is a School Shooting? Members of Congress Seek a Federal Definition, Reliable Data
A new bill would direct federal departments to track data related to school shootings, a term for which there is no federal definition.
Daniela Altimari, Hartford Courant
4 min read
Police respond to the scene of a shooting at Heritage High School in Newport News, Va., on Saturday Sept. 20, 2021. Newport News police Chief Steve Drew said two students were shot and taken to the hospital and neither injury was thought to be life-threatening. The chief said authorities believe the suspect and victims knew one another but did not provide details.
Police respond to the scene of a shooting at Heritage High School in Newport News, Va., on Saturday Sept. 20, 2021.
John C. Clark/AP Photo
Federal Is the Justice Dept. Silencing Parents or Stepping Up to Protect Educators?
Merrick Garland's move to use the FBI to help protect school officials from violence and harassment has drawn anger and praise.
5 min read
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., speaks during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to examine Texas's abortion law, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., speaks during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to examine Texas's abortion law, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Tom Williams/Pool via AP
Federal Don't Use Federal COVID Aid to Undermine School Mask Rules, U.S. Treasury Tells Governor
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey violated the intent of COVID aid programs by using them to discourage school mask mandates, an agency letter says.
2 min read
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey speaks at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix on Nov. 30, 2020. A program announced by Arizona's Republican governor last month to give private school vouchers to students whose parents object to school mask requirements has seen a surge of applications, with twice as many either completed or started than can be funded with the $10 million in federal coronavirus relief cash he earmarked for the program.
A program announced by Arizona's Republican Gov. Doug Ducey in September earmarks federal money to give private school vouchers to students whose parents object to public school mask requirements.
Ross D. Franklin/AP
Federal Districts Would Have to Show Equity for High-Poverty Schools Under Proposed Biden Rule
The U.S. Department of Education says the move would promote transparency and accountability for schools getting COVID-19 aid.
4 min read
Illustration of a helping hand with dollar bill bridging economy gap during coronavirus pandemic, assisting business people to overcome financial difficulties.
Feodora Chiosea/iStock/Getty Images Plus