Schools’ forms violated students’ civil rights despite nearly 10 years of warnings about unconstitutionality

The ACLU-NJ has settled all five lawsuits filed against four districts and a charter school whose published registration information hindered enrollment of immigrant students. The districts and charter school had required parents to produce identification that someone without a Social Security number or valid immigration status cannot obtain.

The ACLU-NJ on October 17 sued Fair Lawn School District in Bergen County, Jersey City Global Charter School in Hudson County, Jamesburg School District and Spotswood School District in Middlesex County, and Port Republic School District in Atlantic County. While there was no evidence that any of the schools had turned away immigrant students, the law is clear that such registration requirements are impermissible because they may prevent students from even attempting to register.

In each case, officials agreed to remove the offending requirement from its forms, to clarify on registration information that documents revealing immigration status will not be required, and to reimburse the ACLU-NJ for the filing fees associated with the lawsuits.

“The ACLU of New Jersey is grateful that the districts recognized the clarity of the law on this issue and quickly settled all of the cases,” said ACLU-NJ Senior Staff Attorney Alexander Shalom. “But registration issues persist throughout the state. The Department of Education must assume responsibility for auditing districts’ compliance with laws resigned to ensure fair access to education for all New Jerseyans.”