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 Butler Public School District was the first of those districts, preceding even the DOJ letter.
On March 7, 2014, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU-NJ) filed this lawsuit
in the Superior Court of New Jersey in Morris County, Chancery Division. The plaintiff sued Butler Public School District under 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 Butler Township. 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 Butler, 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.
On March 11, 2014 the district chose to change its policies
rather than pursue the lawsuit, although documentation of a settlement is currently unavailable.
In addition to Butler, the other seven districts altered their discriminatory practices within a week of being sued by the ACLU-NJ (ACLU-NJ Statement
The other district lawsuits brought by ACLU-NJ are also available in the Clearinghouse: Audubon School District, Galloway Township Public School District, Glouster Township Public School District, North Brunswick Public School District, Old Bridge Township Public School District, Perth Amboy Public School District,
and Somerdale Park Public School District.Carolyn Weltman - 11/15/2015