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Lampitt Bill to Clarify that Schools Must Not Bar Children from Enrollment Based on Immigration Status Approved by Assembly Panel

A measure sponsored by Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt to make clear that New Jersey school districts should not deny undocumented students access to school was cleared Thursday by the Assembly Education Committee.

It is against federal and state law for school districts to deny a student’s enrollment based on his or her immigration status, or make inquiries of students or parents that may expose their undocumented status.

This bill (A-4956) would prohibit school districts from conditioning enrollment on immigration status or if the Motor Vehicle Commission does not have a name or address of a parent or guardian on file.

“All students should have the right to go to school, regardless of their immigration status,” said Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington). “Education is absolutely vital to a child’s development and future success. There’s no reason to deny an innocent child of that.”

Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU-NJ) filed lawsuits against 12 school districts in New Jersey for policies the organization argued were in violation of the law and State Constitution. As a condition of enrollment, the districts required forms of state-issued identification that could only by obtained by someone with citizenship or a Social Security number.

“Unfortunately, not every school district in New Jersey is abiding by our laws and State Constitution in granting free public education for all, not just American citizens,” said Lampitt. “This bill will clarify and reinforce our existing laws and ideals that no child should be prevented from getting an education.”

Lampitt is also the sponsor of a bill (A-5324) to clarify that a school district may not exclude a child from school based on any characteristic protected under the Law Against Discrimination or immigration status. The bill was approved Monday by the Assembly Education Committee.

Both measures would take effect immediately upon enactment.