The Board of Regents and State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Tuesday issued an emergency regulation to help ensure that immigrant children can attend school in New York State. The regulation comes after the New York Civil Liberties Union in October released a review that showed that many school districts across the state may be unlawfully barring the enrollment of immigrant students.
"The attorney general and Board of Regents have taken an important step toward ensuring that immigrant children can make their right to an education a reality," said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. "All children have an equal right to a public school education, regardless of their immigration status. These regulations reduce the biggest barrier facing children across the state who only want to access an education."
The Supreme Court in 1982 ruled that states violate the 14th Amendment when they deny undocumented children the same educational opportunity that they provide to citizens. New York State Education Law further guarantees a free public education to youth older than 5 and younger than 21 who have not earned a high school diploma. Though state schools may inquire about a student’s age and address, they break the law if they ask about a student or parent’s immigration status, require birth certificates as proof of a child’s age or otherwise impose requirements that would chill a student’s willingness to engage with the school.
The new rules, for example, include uniform registration requirements and prohibit districts from inquiring about a student's or his or her parents' immigration status as a precondition for enrolling in a school.