The Justice and Education Departments are teaming up to remind public schools that they are required to provide all children with equal access to education at the elementary and secondary level regardless of their parents’ or guardians’ citizenship or immigration status.
The “dear colleague,” letter to schools providing guidance to schools on their legal obligations comes as the departments say they have “become aware of student enrollment practices that may chill or discourage the participation, or lead to the exclusion, of students.”
The guidelines do not change existing practices, but rather remind schools of obligations established by Plyler v. Doe, a 1982 Supreme Court case that affirmed all children are guaranteed equal access to a basic public education regardless of their immigration status. The Justice and Education Departments last issued guidance to schools on their responsibilities in 2011, and the 2014 documents update that guidance by stressing the need for “flexibility” in accepting documents from parents to prove a child’s age and area of residence, and remind schools what kinds of documents they can and cannot accept.”We want to be sure every school leader understands the legal requirements under the Constitution and federal laws, and it is our hope that this update will address some of the misperceptions out there,” said Secretary Arne Duncan in a statement. “The message here is clear: let all children who live in your district enroll in your public schools.”
- U.S. to stop deporting young illegal immigrants
- Jeb Bush calls some illegal immigration an “act of love”
Attorney General Eric Holder pledged to “vigilantly enforce the law to ensure the schoolhouse door remains open to all.” Any actions to put up barriers to student enrollment, “not only harm innocent children, they also markedly weaken our nation…by leaving young people unprepared and ill-equipped to succeed,” he said.