The New York State Education Department is making clear to school districts that they cannot seek documentation of immigration status as a prerequisite to enrolling a child in school. The New York Civil Liberties Union wrote to the state in July, saying that a survey of all 694 school districts found that at least 139 were asking, directly or indirectly, for proof of a parent or child’s status.
The organization wrote to Commissioner David Steiner:
Asking for such documentation is at best irrelevant to proving eligibility to attend school in a particular district, and at worst a deliberate attempt to prevent undocumented children from enrolling in school.
Undocumented children have the same right to a free public education as other children. State guidelines recommend proper ways to determine a child’s age and residency, saying schools “should avoid asking questions related to immigration status or that might reveal a child’s immigration status, such as asking for a Social Security number.”
Among the 139 districts where the NYCLU identified problems were these Westchester County districts:
Eastchester, Tarrytowns, Somers, Rye City, Rye Neck, Pelham, Mamaroneck, Hastings, Harrison, Elmsford, Dobbs Ferry, Croton-Harmon, Bronxville and Blind Brook.
ADDED: Noreen O’Donnell reports on the response of local districts in this Journal News article.