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Butler Schools Accused of Discriminating Immigrant Families

ACLU lawsuit will be heard Tuesday morning in Morristown Superior Court.

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey has accused the Butler School District of discrimination against immigrant families.

The lawsuit, filed on Friday, will be heard at 9 a.m. Tuesday in front of State Superior Court Judge Stephan C. Hansbury in Morristown.

The ACLU-NJ alleges the school district discriminates against immigrant families by requesting parents to show a driver's license photo ID or other state or county-issued identification when they enroll their children for school.

"While school districts may require proof of residency, the Constitution and state regulations mandate that public schools provide equal access to students regardless of their or their parents’ immigration status," according to an ACLU-NJ statement released Monday afternoon.

The parents would need to have a Social Security number or have valid immigration status in order to obtain one of these ID cards.

"The Butler School District continues to stand by a policy that wrongly blocks certain children from the classroom based on the immigration status of their parents, even though the law unambiguously forbids it," ACLU-NJ Senior Staff Attorney Alexander Shalom said.

"Fortunately, most school districts operate within the bounds of established constitutional law, which for more than 30 years has upheld the right of all children to attend public schools, regardless of their background or origin."

Butler Superintendent Mario Cardinale could not immediately be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

The ACLU-NJ seeks an emergency injunction to allow immigrant families to register their children during the enrollment period this week for the 2014-15 school year.

The ACLU-NJ conducted telephone surveys in 2008 of more than 500 New Jersey school districts and found 139 of them, including Butler, required documents that indicated immigration status.

The New Jersey Department of Education has since reminded districts to allow families to register, regardless of immigration status. The ACLU-NJ alleges the Butler district has refused to rescind its policy even after being told the practice of requiring the photo documentation was unlawful.

"Because public schools play a fundamental role in strengthening our communities and our democracy, the New Jersey Constitution entitles all young residents to a public education regardless of where they or their parents were born," ACLU-NJ Deputy Legal Director Jeanne LoCicero said.

"Requiring a parent’s photo ID is a needless barrier to an education that not only violates the Constitution, but also undermines the ideal that public schools serve all of the children in a community."
lisa March 13, 2014 at 11:29 AM
Hey i am not a racist to the valdez comment but when all you need to do is provide legal documentation to go to school the least the parents can do is get a green card or get the hell out..I am an AMERICAN and should be here and had to show the same things for my kids who are AMERICAN and as well as me BORN here...Do you have Green card most likely not.. If i went to your country and did what is going on here it would not be allowed....They come here and just take take take. Most most are married and have families in mexico that they send money home too or go down and visit and come back again here illegally and some actually have the nerve to come on 6 month so called work visa and never go home...
lisa March 13, 2014 at 11:35 AM
and anothing most cant show a legal apartment lease cause they dont have them...2 bedroom apartments are not meant for 10 occupants. DONT tell me that dont happen because unfortuantely i had to be neighbors with 10 or more people living in a 2 bedroom apartment...and that didnt count the children ( anchor babies) they had...Its getting real tough for the actuall AMERICAN CITIZENS like myself....So you can KISS MY ASS with that RACIST statement... Shame when you go to the local clinic that you are the only AMERICAN There...Then they have nerve not to speak ENGLISH....
steve March 13, 2014 at 12:21 PM
I'm sorry Lisa but perhaps I was not the target of your "racist" comment? I married a mixed Costa Rican/Caucasian first time around and my second wife was ethnic Chinese. Now that she has passed, I am engaged to another ethnic Chinese. My niece is married to an African-American and her father is Puerto Rican and her mother is Caucasian. My surviving mother-in-law (from my second wife) came to American when she was a child bride at only sixteen years old (arranged marriage) and worked all her life at the family store and night times at the cannery to put her kids through college because "girls don't need school" according to her husband's father. My fiance came to America at thirteen years old and worked in a sweatshop in Chinatown after struggling through day after day of high school while trying to do the work while also trying to learn the language. You have a point that illegal aliens are coloring our society but so are the legal immigrants. It is not pleasant to live next door to a multifamily home that has seven cars in the concrete back yard and lots and lots of residents hanging out well into the night watching TV in their garage - just outside my bedroom window. You should hear the rants my Chinese mother-in-law gets into about the "white-card" bearing illegal aliens getting free medical care when she has to pay for everything (well, she seems to forget her Medicare is less than $100 a month out of her hard-earned Social Security pension). You should have heard the complaints when she finally gave in and got her teeth fixed!). Lisa, I am very sorry for your situation as it sounds somewhat like what I am experiencing on a daily basis, but you are simply venting on this tiny forum - not unlike that nutty lady that sets up those white sign boards on the corner of Veterans Blvd and Whipple Avenue in Redwood City (you know the one - white boards with text too tiny to read unless you are right next to her and have more than 30 seconds to read them). If you want to make a real change, then use your vote to do so or start a petition to push for change. There is something out there ... Change.org? Anyway, please try to find solace, Lisa. Like most everything else, in one hundred years this will not matter - likely not even be a foot-note in the history books. Heck, we change our leaders every four years and look what that does to us.
steve March 13, 2014 at 01:42 PM
Re: steve March 13, 2014 at 12:21 PM Has anyone else noticed that the posting occurs hours BEFORE we actually post it? Just where are the servers this is hosted on, anyway? My "real-time" is now 10:42 AM, PDST

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