By: Amanda Sundquist
The United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has recently issued a “Dear Colleague” letter regarding school district enrollment practices. The letter focuses on practices that may discourage enrollment of students based on their or their parents’ actual or perceived citizenship or immigration status. Under federal law and as confirmed by the United States Supreme Court in Plyler v. Doe, school districts are obligated to provide access to public education for any child residing in the school district, regardless of immigration status or citizenship. The letter reminds school districts that a student’s citizenship or immigration status or that of their parents is not necessary to establishing residency in the school district. The letter also addresses school districts’ requests for birth certificates, social security numbers and racial and ethnicity identification as part of the student enrollment process. OCR has a Fact Sheet and Q & A information available on its website to provide additional guidance to school districts.
For assistance in confirming your school district’s student enrollment policies are consistent with federal law, please contact me at our West Chester office.