When state and local governments try to pass restrictions for education based on legality of the student they are, for the most part, brought to a halt by the court system. The courts cite Plyler v Doe, but why? What does Plyler v Doe do for undocumented students?
Before 1982, the year when Plyler v Doe was put into action, some Texas local governments were denying funding for undocumented students and charging them a tuition fee of $1,000.00 per year. The original policy stated that the school district could withhold funds for educating children who were not legally documented within the United States. It allowed these districts to determine who was denied access to enrollment. The Supreme Court found this policy to be a violation of the children’s Fourteenth Amendment. The fourteenth Amendment states a broad definition of citizenship claiming that children born to immigrants were still citizen’s here. The Supreme Court stated that children were powerless, they had absolutely no control that their parents had crossed the boarder into the country illegally.
They also thought that not educating these children would lead to progressively worse problems. Undocumented children have the same right to free public education and are obligated to attend school until they reach the age mandated by the state laws. Plyler v Doe also states that schools may not require children to prove, by document or green card, their legal citizenship but just that they live within the attendance zone of the school district. It also states that schools cannot require a social security number by the children or force them to obtain one. If a school system wants them on file, they may send out a request (in all appropriate languages) stating that if the parents want to put it in their child’s file, they may.
Free and reduced lunch is determined based on the income of the family and not the student’s family legal status. In order to obtain free or reduced lunch a student needs the social security numbers of all members in the family 21 years of age and older. If there are members in the family without a social security number they must indicate it with a “none” on the worksheet. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act prohibits outside agencies from getting the information from these lunch worksheets without a court order. Along those same lines, schools are not allowed to give any information to the INS either.
If I were to have been one of those voting on Plyler v Doe, I would have been with the five who had decided that it was wrong to deny these children of their education. I also believe that these children had literally no control over their parent’s decisions. If a parent decides that they are going to illegally reside in a country, a child has no vote whether or not they go. Who are we to decide that a child does not get an education? Wouldn’t denying an education cause more harm and more problems than allowing them access to school? I think that all children, no matter their documented status, deserve the same things one of which being an education and the opportunity to better themselves, their families and their future.
Courtney from Study Moose
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