AALDEF commends new federal guidance on equal access to public schools

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) commends the joint guidance released today by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education to state and local school districts, emphasizing their universal obligation to provide all children with equal access to elementary and secondary public education. Rooted in the principles of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Plyler v. Doe, the "Dear Colleague Letter" and accompanying fact sheets pinpoint obstructive practices that illegally exclude minority and immigrant students in the enrollment process.

In working with Limited English Proficient (LEP) students and their families, AALDEF and its community-based partners frequently identify issues in student enrollment that implicate discriminatory practices against immigrant students and their families, including invasive checks on immigration status. School districts must ensure that local policies reflect compliance with federal law as articulated in this new guidance, train staff to implement those policies, and be held accountable by federal authorities for discriminatory practices that deny immigrant students and families equal access to public education.

"LEP students and parents can be especially vulnerable to aggressive requests for sensitive information, like immigration status," said AALDEF Staff Attorney Thomas L. Mariadason. "This guidance makes it clear such requests and other exclusionary tactics aimed at immigrant and minority students are intolerable. Every child in this country--regardless of race or status--should have access to public education."

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For more information, contact:
Thomas A. Mariadason
Staff Attorney, Educational Equity Program
212.966.5932
tmariadason@aaldef.org