Immigrant Students’ Rights to Attend Public Schools
|The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Plyler vs. Doe (457 U.S. 202 (1982)) that undocumented children and young adults have the same right to attend public primary and secondary schools as do U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Like other children, undocumented students are obliged under state law to attend school until they reach a mandated age. As a result of the Plyler ruling, public schools may not:
A school district may not request a student’s or parent’s social security number unless it (1) informs the individual that disclosure is voluntary, (2) provides the statutory or other legal basis for why the district is requesting the number, and (3) explains how the district will use the number.
Districts are strongly discouraged from requesting social security numbers to avoid any chilling effect that this request may have on the enrollment of students because of their race, color, national origin, citizenship, or immigration status.
Changes in the F-1 (Student) Visa Program do not alter the Plylerobligations to undocumented children. These changes apply only to students who apply for a student visa from outside the U.S.
Finally, school personnel — especially building principals and those involved with student intake activities — should be aware that they have no legal obligation to enforce U.S. immigration laws. (U.S. Supreme Court, 1982)
May 8, 2014 Dear Colleague Letter
Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202
Lau v. Nichols, 414 U.S. 563
Help Ensure that Immigrant Students Have Access to Educational Opportunities
For more information about this and other civil rights in schools, contact the Equity and Civil Rights Office.