Monday, September 8, 2008

New Jersey school districts just don't understand.

It's been over 20 years since the law allowing undocumented students to attend public schools regardless of their legal status and these school districts in Jew Jersey are making the bigest mistake in US civil liberties... ACLU will take on the big problem.
NJ: Districts Still Asking If Kids Are Citizens
The Star-Ledger,
September 03, 2008
By John Mooney

At least one in five New Jersey school districts asked prospective students about their immigration status, possibly in violation of state and federal law, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey said.
Saying they were friends or family, ACLU staff and volunteers surveyed every district in the state for information on how to register a new student. Of the 515 districts that responded, at least 139 said they needed information that disclosed the child's immigration status, the ACLU said.The results weren't much different from those of a similar survey two years ago, after which the state Department of Education issued warnings that such policies are illegal and all children -- despite their immigration status -- are entitled to public education.ACLU officials said the number of offending districts may be higher; some districts, they said, appeared to be unclear about their own policies."The law is clear, so why are so many schools still illegally requesting this information?" said Nadia Seeratan, the ACLU-NJ attorney who oversaw the study. "The Constitution promises every child in the United States a right to education. Requiring proof of citizenship as a condition of enrollment breaks that promise."Two dozen districts cited in the 2006 survey were cited again in the latest survey, the ACLU said. Among them were Trenton, Irvington, Middlesex Borough, Old Bridge, Highlands, Mt. Olive and Hackettstown, the ACLU said.
Officials in some of the districts said the problem was more a matter of miscommunication than malfeasance."An individual in the district said we asked for that information, when in fact we don't," Hackettstown superintendent Robert Gratz said. "It was a legitimate mistake."But Gratz said that after revising enrollment forms last time, the district will make sure its staff is aware of the proper process.
Still, state officials said all offending districts would be contacted and ordered to remedy their enrollment process, be it correcting their websites or training staff.Education Commissioner Lucille Davy "is very disturbed at the large number of school districts that the ACLU says are still doing this, since the districts have repeatedly been told that it is expressly forbidden by law and code," said Kathryn Forsyth, Davy's spokeswoman.Forsyth said the state would begin monitoring and punitive actions would be considered in the future, including withholding of state aid.

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