Skip to main content

Enrollment practices at majority of New Orleans schools comply with federal law after SPLC action

After notifying more than half of New Orleans public schools that their enrollment and registration practices discriminate against children because of their immigration status or that of their parents, the SPLC reported today that the majority of the city’s schools now have enrollment forms that comply with federal law. 

After notifying more than half of New Orleans public schools that their enrollment and registration practices discriminate against children because of their immigration status or that of their parents, the SPLC and VAYLA New Orleans reported today that the majority of the city’s schools now have enrollment forms that comply with federal law. 

The number of compliant New Orleans schools jumped from 31 percent to 83 percent after the SPLC and VAYLA New Orleans notified noncompliant schools on Oct. 15. The groups are working to ensure the remaining schools make the necessary changes, but legal action has not been ruled out as an option to ensure compliance.  

“There are 13 schools that have failed to update their school enrollment forms with the appropriate standards required by federal law,” said Jennifer Coco, SPLC staff attorney. “While we still hope to amicably resolve this issue, we are exploring legal action to defend the rights of all students who are harmed by enrollment and registration criteria that effectively block the schoolhouse door.”

In October, the SPLC and VAYLA found that 55 of the city’s 83 public schools discouraged enrollment by requiring a Social Security number or conditioning enrollment on a parent’s ability to provide a driver’s license or state ID. Now, 42 of those 55 schools have made the appropriate changes to their enrollment forms.

Information for each school can be found here.  

“We have been thrilled by the immediate response that a majority of schools had to our requests,” said Minh Nguyen, executive director of VAYLA. “This process has demonstrated a shared commitment to leveling the playing field for students and families. We look forward to continuing to work in partnership and collaboratively with so many schools to discuss the ways they can improve their registration practices and ensure equitable access to a quality education for all of our students.” 

More than 30 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Plyler v. Doe that it is unconstitutional to deny a child present in the United States a public education based on his or her immigration status.

To ensure that enrollment in public school is not chilled, federal law requires that schools requesting a Social Security number must indicate that disclosing the number is voluntary; provide the statutory or other basis upon which it is seeking the number; and explain how the number will be used.