New York, NY - February 27, 2017 - In light of recent federal immigration-related actions that have created fear and confusion in New York and across the country, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia today reminded school districts of their duty to comply with existing state and federal laws that ensure the rights of immigrant children to attend New York’s public schools without fear of reprisal.
“Our schools must be places where all students can learn, free of fear or intimidation - no matter their immigration status. No family should have to worry that sending their child to school may result in deportation," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "That's why we'll ensure that all students remain protected under state and federal laws, no matter the draconian immigration policies that come out of Washington. I'm grateful to Commissioner Elia and SED for our continued partnership, ensuring that New York remains a leader in guaranteeing the rights of all students."
“Throughout our long history, New York State has been a refuge for people from other lands seeking a new and better life for themselves and their families,” said State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. “Home to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, New York has always welcomed immigrants. Indeed, our greatness as a state derives, in large part, from the contributions of immigrants. Our immigrant students have a right to a free education and they must not fear retribution for themselves or family members simply because they attend school. As education and law enforcement leaders, it is imperative that we protect all students as well as the information we have about them to the fullest extent possible under the law.”
The guidance provides districts with relevant information pertaining to their duties under the law with respect to their students and the confidentiality of student records. Law enforcement officers may not remove a student from school property or interrogate a student without the consent of the student’s parent or person in parental relation except in very rare instances, such as when a crime has been committed on school property.
In addition, the guidance reminds districts that under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, parents must consent to disclosing personally identifiable student information, except in very limited situations that do not appear to cover requests from federal immigration officials to access personally identifiable student information.