ACLU files bias suits against 12 NJ school districts

TRENTON, N.J. (AP/WTXF) - A civil rights group has sued 12 New Jersey school districts over enrollment practices that it says discriminate against children of immigrants who are living in the country illegally.

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey announced the lawsuit Thursday. It claims the districts require forms of state-issued identification that can only be obtained by someone who is a citizen or has a Social Security number.

The districts are spread across the state and include one charter school district. The ACLU says they were included in the suit because they have the most restrictive policies, but notes that several others in the state also impose improper requirements.

"New Jersey's state Constitution calls for free public education, and that applies to every single child - no exceptions," said ACLU-NJ Staff Attorney Elyla Huertas, who filed the lawsuits. "In a state where one in five residents is foreign-born, at a time when our president has made the exclusion of immigrants a key part of his policy agenda, it's more important than ever for every school district in New Jersey to meet its obligations, both to New Jersey's families and to the Constitution."

The ACLU has sued 13 other New Jersey districts in recent years over similar disputes. All those suits were settled after the districts agreed to change their policies.

A full list of the affected schools can be found here.