Georgia District Must Clarify Use of Social Security Numbers, DOJ Says

Last Updated: November 27, 2012

This article appeared in the November 2012 Rural Policy Matters.

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The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has entered into an agreement with Georgia’s Henry County School District to ensure the district’s practice of demanding Social Security numbers ends and that the district effectively communicates enrollment requirements to all parents, particularly those who have limited English proficiency.

Georgia law requires districts to request Social Security numbers from students, but it also requires that parents be given a waiver option if they object to providing the number. This fall, DOJ raised concerns about enrollment practices in the state. In response, the Georgia Department of Education issued guidance to all districts clarifying that no student may be denied enrollment for failing to provide a Social Security number.

The DOJ conducted an investigation in Henry County after allegations that the district told parents their children would be withdrawn from school for not providing a Social Security number and had failed to make its enrollment procedures accessible to parents with limited proficiency in English.

The settlement agreement is meant to ensure that all students in the district are able to enroll in school, regardless of national origin or immigration status.

In addition, Henry County must provide training on legal enrollment procedures to all district administrators and report on the training to DOJ. It must also submit copies of enrollment forms and report on enrollment trends. The district claims that it has ramped up scrutiny of new students in response to enrollment increases in recent years.

“No child should face barriers to enrolling in school,” said Sally Quillian Yates, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.

The DOJ and the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR) have renewed attention to school enrollment procedures in the wake of harsh new immigration statutes passed in several states. DOJ and OCR issued a joint “Dear Colleague” letter to state and local education agencies outlining permissible enrollment procedures last spring.

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Local coverage:

Read the press release and settlement on the Department of Justice website:

Read the “Dear Colleague” Letter here:

Previous RPM coverage of these issues in Alabama:

Read more from the November 2012 Rural Policy Matters.