University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey v. Somerdale Park Public School District ED-NJ-0009
Docket / Court L-2205-14 ( State Court )
State/Territory New Jersey
Case Type(s) Education
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
This case is part of an ACLU campaign across the state of New Jersey. Following a DOJ letter stating that all children have equal access to public education, the ACLU sent a letter to 1 ... read more >
This case is part of an ACLU campaign across the state of New Jersey. Following a DOJ letter stating that all children have equal access to public education, the ACLU sent a letter to 136 school districts it had determined to have strict identification requirements for adults to enroll children in school. These policies were against state and federal law, and significantly impacted the children of undocumented immigrants. When eight of the districts failed to change their restrictive policies, ACLU-NJ filed a lawsuit against each of them. The Somerdale Park Public School District was one of those districts.

On May 30, 2014, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU-NJ) filed this lawsuit in the Superior Court of New Jersey in Camden County, Chancery Division. The ACLU-NJ sued Somerdale Park Public School District under the New Jersey Constitution. The ACLU-NJ claimed violations of the equal protection cause of the 14th Amendment and two sections of the New Jersey Constitution, including its sections on equal protection and thorough and efficient education. The ACLU-NJ sued on behalf of its own interests as a long-time advocate of immigration rights, as well as on behalf of immigrant residents of Somerdale Park. The ACLU-NJ claimed that the school district's registration process unfairly discriminated against the children of undocumented parents by requiring a driver's license.

In Somerdale Park, during the registration of kindergarten and new students, parents were given a list of required documents, several of which are used to prove residency in the township. One of those required documents was a driver's license, which undocumented immigrants were unable to obtain without a social security number or valid immigration paperwork. Without the license, children of these immigrants were unable to attend school, depriving them of their right to education.

By June 9 2014, the parties reached a settlement, although documentation beyond the stipulation of dismissal is currently unavailable.

In addition to Somerdale Park, each of the other six districts altered their discriminatory practices within a week of being sued by the ACLU-NJ (ACLU-NJ Statement). The suit against Butler School District had already been resolved in March.

The other lawsuits brought by ACLU-NJ are also available in the Clearinghouse: Butler School District, Galloway Township Public Schools, Glouster Township Public School District, Audubon Public School District, Old Bridge Township Public School District, North Brunswick Public School District, and Perth Amboy Public School District.

Carolyn Weltman - 12/07/2015


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Elementary/Secondary School
Discrimination-basis
Immigration status
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)
State law
Defendant(s) Somerdale Park Public School District
Plaintiff Description The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU-NJ) is a non-profit, non-partisan membership organization. Founded in 1960, the ACLU-NJ has approximately 12,000 members and donors in New Jersey and tens of thousands of supporters across the state. Its primary office is in Newark, New Jersey. The ACLU-NJ is the state affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, which was founded in 1920 and is composed of hundreds of thousands of members and supporters nationwide.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted Moot
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Voluntary Dismissal
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2014
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing ED-NJ-0002 : American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey v. Butler Public School District (State Court)
ED-NJ-0003 : American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey v. Audubon Public School District (State Court)
ED-NJ-0004 : American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey v. Galloway Township Public Schools (State Court)
ED-NJ-0005 : American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey v. Gloucester Township Public School District (State Court)
ED-NJ-0006 : American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey v. North Brunswick Public School District (State Court)
ED-NJ-0007 : American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey v. Old Bridge Township Public School District (State Court)
ED-NJ-0008 : American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey v. Perth Amboy Public School District (State Court)
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Courts and Kids: Pursuing Educational Equity Through the State Courts
By: Michael Rebell (Columbia University, and Campaign for Educational Equity)
Citation: (University of Chicago Press, 2009)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Dear Colleague Letter on the Rights of All Children to Enroll in Public Schools 05/08/2014
ED-NJ-0009-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: U.S. DOJ, Civil Rights Division, Education Section
Verified Complaint and Designation of Trial Counsel 05/30/2014
ED-NJ-0009-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source:
Letter Brief in Support of Order to Show Cause with Temporary Restraints 05/30/2014
ED-NJ-0009-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source:
Stipulation of Dismissal 06/09/2014
ED-NJ-0009-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source:
Judges Colalillo, Mary Eva (State Trial Court)
ED-NJ-0009-0002
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Barocas, Edward (New Jersey)
ED-NJ-0009-0001 | ED-NJ-0009-0002 | ED-NJ-0009-0003
LoCicero, Jeanne (New Jersey)
ED-NJ-0009-0001 | ED-NJ-0009-0002 | ED-NJ-0009-0003
Shalom, Alexander (New Jersey)
ED-NJ-0009-0001 | ED-NJ-0009-0002 | ED-NJ-0009-0003
Defendant's Lawyers Kennedy, John S. (New Jersey)
ED-NJ-0009-0003
Other Lawyers Rosenfelt, Philip H. (District of Columbia)
ED-NJ-0009-0004
Samuels, Jocelyn (District of Columbia)
ED-NJ-0009-0004

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