Attorney General James and NYSED Commissioner Rosa affirm every New York student has right to free public education

In advance of the start of the school year, New York Attorney General Letitia James and New York State Education Department (NYSED) Commissioner Betty A. Rosa released “Know Your Rights” guidance affirming that every student between the ages of 5 and 21 has the right to a free public education in New York, regardless of the student’s nationality or immigration status. The guidance details schools’ responsibilities in accepting new students and warns against the implementation of policies or requirements that would prevent noncitizens, undocumented students, and families without a lease from registering for school. 

“The law is clear: every New Yorker is entitled to a free public education, and anyone who lives in our state is a New Yorker,” said Attorney General James. “With the first day of school just around the corner, we must ensure that all students are welcomed to attend without delay or difficulty. I will always defend our young people’s right to learn, and I encourage any New Yorker who is denied their right to attend our public schools to contact my office.”  

“We are a nation of immigrants. It is crucial that diversity, equity, and inclusion are rooted in all we do, particularly when it comes to teaching and learning,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr. “School districts are legally responsible for ensuring that all students, regardless of their nationality or immigration status, have access to an equitable, high-quality education. The Department and the Board of Regents are committed to ensuring schools and school districts have the resources to provide these incoming students and their families with the support they need to succeed.”  

“All school and district leaders must continue to faithfully carry out their duty to accept and provide educational support services for these students and their families,” said Commissioner Rosa 

Under New York law, students between the ages of 5 and 21 have the right to a free public school education. Any policies that prevent students from enrolling in their local public school violate that lawful right. Federal and state laws require public schools to accept and enroll school-age migrants and other students experiencing homelessness, or living in shelters or other temporary housing, even if those students cannot provide proof of residency, school records, or other documents usually required for enrollment.  

Image courtesy of thesatimes

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