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Resources for families & advocates

Protecting immigrant students’ rights

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Welcome families and advocates! Here are some resources to help you understand the rights of students, parents and guardians related to language services and enrollment in kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12) public schools. We want you to understand your rights and what you can do if they are violated by a school or school district.

Understanding the basics

Protecting Immigrant Students’ Rights to a Public Education: A Pamphlet for Families & Advocates

children clapping hands

This pamphlet provides a summary of U.S. federal laws that protect students and their families. After reading, you will understand what services schools and school districts must provide to students and families who are learning English, who are immigrants, who have disabilities, or who are experiencing homelessness. You will also learn some ways to push back if a school or district is violating your rights.

Download the Pamphlet (PDF)

Patli and Hugo’s Enrollment Story: A Family Advocates for Their Rights at School

illustration of children at school

When a school or district is not following the law, it can be hard to know what you can do to advocate for your family. In this story, a mother and son – Patli and Hugo – face challenges enrolling Hugo in high school and getting his new school to provide him with language and special education services. Hugo’s friend Daniel also struggles to get enrolled due to an unstable living situation. Throughout the story, we explain what you can do if you find yourself in a similar situation. With determination, Patli gets Hugo and Daniel the services they need so that they can enjoy and fully participate in their new school community.

Download PDF

Advocacy letters

If your rights are being violated and you have decided to take action, these letters can be used to inform the school or district of their legal responsibilities to your family. Each of the four letters focuses on a specific problem and asks the school or district to take action to address it. Click the links below to see the letters and learn more about when you would send each one.

Addressing more complex or persistent problems

Enrollment demand letter

Advocates and attorneys working with a family that continues to face rights violations might consider sending a demand letter before pursuing litigation against an uncooperative school district. Here is a sample demand letter from the Southern Poverty Law Center to a Florida school superintendent. It provides an example for asserting a student’s right to enrollment in the school district under state and federal law.

Download the Letter (PDF)

Protecting Immigrant Students’ Rights to a Public Education: A Guide for Families & Advocates

child holding a sign that says 'justice'

If you have reviewed the resources above and are looking to learn in more detail about the laws protecting the rights of students, parents and guardians at school, please refer to our English guide.

Download the Guide (PDF)

Resources from beyond the Southern Poverty Law Center

Google Translate for smartphone

Translation and transcription apps are not a substitute for the accurate translations and qualified interpretation you should receive from your child’s school. No translation app can provide 100% accuracy. However, such apps can be helpful in daily life. The Google Translate app allows you to translate full pages of text by hovering your smartphone camera above what you wish to translate. It can also listen to spoken English and provide a written transcript in the selected language. The app’s conversation mode interprets speech aloud between speakers of different languages.

Download the app: Android | iOS

U.S. Department of Education (DOE) resources available in many languages

The DOE has many useful resources for families in a variety of languages.

Colorín Colorado’s bilingual resources

This webpage provides articles and resources to help you help your child learn to read, learn a new language, succeed in school and more.

Get connected!

If you or someone you know is experiencing violations of their enrollment and language access rights in K-12 public school, we want to hear from you. If you have attempted to advocate for your family and the violations continue, please give us a call toll-free from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday:

Southern Poverty Law Center

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Construction Notice

This page of our website is currently under construction. Resources for families and advocates in this language coming soon.

We uxaq web’ katajin kab’an unuk’maxik kamik. Le patanib’al chi kech ajupaja xuquje’ tob’anelab’ pa we ch’ab’al man naj ta chik kak’oji’ waral.

Jt-xaq u’j lu tej qeya q-sitio web lu xi’na tb’aj b’inchet ja’la. Qaj aq’masab’ te chej najaj ex qaj klol toj ja yol lu ch’ixk’a chul te tu’ chkub’ ten naj.

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ਸਾਡੀ ਵੈਬਸਾਈਟ ਦਾ ਇਹ ਪੇਜ ਇਸ ਸਮੇਂ ਨਿਰਮਾਣ ਅਧੀਨ ਹੈ। ਇਸ ਭਾਸ਼ਾ ਵਿੱਚ ਪਰਿਵਾਰਾਂ ਅਤੇ ਵਕੀਲਾਂ ਦੇ ਸਰੋਤ ਜਲਦੀ ਉਪਲਬਧ ਹੋਣਗੇ।