Federal law requires states to educate all children, no matter their legal status

The law is based a 1982 U.S. Supreme Court case, Plyler v. Doe, which overturned a Texas law that sought to deny enrollment to undocumented students.
BY GINNIE GRAHAM - Tulsa World Published: August 8, 2011

School-age children, regardless of immigration status, have a right to a public education based on the 1982 U.S. Supreme Court case known as Plyler v. Doe.

In 1975, Texas passed a law to withhold state funds for educating students who were not legal residents and gave districts the right to deny enrollment to undocumented students.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, found the law violated the 14th Amendment. In part, the decision determined children had a right to protection from discrimination, and the law imposed a burden based on “a legal characteristic over which children can have little control.”

The majority stated denying children an education would likely contribute to “the creation and perpetuation of a subclass of illiterates within our boundaries, surely adding to the problems and costs of unemployment, welfare and crime.”

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