Alabama State Department of Education Sued Over Student Records

Last Updated: October 29, 2012

This article appeared in the October 2012 Rural Policy Matters.

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Alabama's controversial and extensive immigration law includes a provision that requires schools to obtain information on the immigration status of all newly enrolling students and their families. The provision does not require schools to report the names of students whose families do not present papers, but it does require schools to report the number of students to the State Department of Education.

That provision, along with several other portions of the law, is currently blocked by a federal court order.

However, there have been reports of harassment of Latino students and their families in schools. Records obtained by the U.S. Department of Justice indicate that Latino attendance dropped significantly after the law went into effect.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), located in Montgomery, has filed a lawsuit against the State Department of Education after the agency refused to release information on Latino enrollment in Alabama's public schools.

SPLC argues that all children have the right to attend school without discrimination and regardless of their immigration status and that the information it is requesting, which relates to these rights, is a matter of public record.

SPLC is also urging parents to contact the Center if they have concerns that schools might attempt to obtain or use information about the real or perceived immigration status of their children or themselves unlawfully.

The lawsuit was filed earlier this month.

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