As school districts begin enrolling for the next school year, a letter from the U.S. Department of Education was sent out to remind school districts that denying elementary or secondary education to any student is federally prohibited. In response to recent reports of school districts rejecting students based on citizenship, the letter was meant to reinforce the federal guidelines of education as decided in the 1982 Supreme Court case, Plyer v. Doe.
The decision of Plyer v. Doe upholds the inability of any state to deny public education to students whether they are a citizen of the United States or not. Denying education to illegal immigrants was seen as imposing a hardship on minors who were not accountable for the immigration decisions of their parents. Despite the actions of several American school districts participating in education discrimination this has been the law since 1982.
The letter was composed by The Office of Civil Rights, which is currently investigating several claims of related discrimination. A school in Durham County, North Carolina was reported to have denied enrollment to a high school student because she could not provide a valid passport and visa. Schools in Hazleton, Pennsylvania have recently been reported due to considering requiring at least four proofs of residency for enrollment.
Schools have been able to deny educational access through enrollment loopholes in recent years. District requirements, such as birth certificates, have been used to reject immigrant students from school. However, the recent letter reminded school districts that while a birth certificate may be required it does not have to be from the United States, and if no proof of birth is available students may still enroll. School districts are allowed to require residency proof within a district such as electric, phone or water bills.
Actions committed by school districts prove that the reminder was necessary. Becky Nordgren, a Republican Rep. of Alabama, recently sponsored a bill that would require all students to provide proof of American citizenship prior to enrolling in public schools. After being reminded of the 1982 Plyer v. Doe Supreme Court decision her bill was put on hold.
Via USA Today