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Student immigrants fight discrimination in North Carolina schools

Several civil rights organizations are demanding the Department of Justice take a hard look at the treatment of immigrants who want to attend public school in North Carolina. They recently issued a complaint with the Department of Justice. In it, they allege that immigrants who want to receive an education in North Carolina are not able to do so.

Two specific examples are given in the complaint. The first references a 17-year-old girl who was not allowed to enroll in public high school because she is not a U.S. citizen. Officials denied her request, saying she had exceeded the age limit for eligibility. According to North Carolina law, the girl had until her 21st birthday to attend public school.

The second example is in reference to another 17-year-old. This student was also told initially he was ineligible to register due to his age. When he made another enrollment attempt, he was forced to complete a proficiency test that was administered in English. He was unable to comply.

The schools named in the complaint say they have not discriminated against anyone. They claim they are only following the law. They say they have not been in contact with anyone connected with the complaint, including the Department of Justice and the group who is spearheading the anti-discrimination effort.

Officials from the state's Department of Public Instruction have also been contacted concerning this issue. They say they are watching it closely. Immigrants who understand the value of education will undoubtedly be watching as well. For them, the right to attend public school and receive the education they have a right to, regardless of citizenship, could be life changing -- not just for them but for generations yet to come.

Source: The Chronicle, Civil rights organizations rally against discrimination in N.C. public schools, Jen Chen, March 5, 2014

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