Every child in the US, regardless of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, language, or immigration status, has the right to receive a free public education. Federal law provides several protections for students and parents to ensure that children are able to attend school and fully participate.
Arizona law requires parents or guardians to prove their child’s age and identity each time a child is registered in a new school district. It may be easiest to present your child’s birth certificate, but there are alternatives if you do not have one. Instead, you can provide other proof of your child’s identity like a baptismal certificate, application for social security number or school registration records from his previous school. If you provide one of these documents, you must also submit an affidavit explaining why you cannot provide a birth certificate. Most school districts also require parents to provide proof of guardianship or custody, like a photo ID, the child’s immunization records, and records from your child’s previous school. Some school districts also require proof of residency in the school district; a utility or rent bill or something else that proves you live within the boundaries of the school district will fulfill this requirement.
The school will likely ask you to provide emergency contact information as well. They may also ask you for information about your child’s race or ethnicity, information schools use for record-keeping or funding purposes. They may also ask for your child’s social security number or even your own social security number, but you are not legally obligated to provide this information, nor do you have to provide information or documentation of your immigration status in order to enroll your child.
You can find out more about the requirements of your school district by calling the school directly or visiting http://www.ade.az.gov/schools/schools/districts.asp
Last summer, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued timely guidelines for school districts regarding school enrollment requirements. The DOE/DOJ fact sheet, frequently asked questions, and accompanying letter below provide more information about federal law and educational access.
Read the letter that the ACLU of Arizona sent to John Huppenthal, superintendent of public instruction for the Arizona Department of Education (ADE), urging him to review ADE polices and those of Arizona schools.
Read the Supreme Court’s decision, Plyler v. Doe, in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that a state may not deny access to a basic public education to any child residing in the state, regardless of immigration status.
To request additonal Back to School resources or if you have any questions, contact Addy Bareiss, ACLU-AZ at email@example.com