Alabama High School Refuses to Enroll Latino Teen

Alabama High SchoolAccording to a recent CNN article, a public high school in Alabama has now twice denied enrollment to a student because he was not born in the U.S. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), after moving from Colorado to Alabama, the 17-year-old student, identified only as “J.T.,” was denied enrollment at Fort Payne High School “simply because he was born in Mexico.”

After J.T. was denied enrollment the first time, the boy’s family met Superintendent, Jim Cunningham, bringing with them the required documentation and a completed enrollment application. However, the Mr. Cunningham declined to enroll J.T. as well. Declining to comment on the reasons for the decision, in a prepared statement the Superintendent, instead, defended school district’s enrollment policy, saying the “School System in no manner utilizes or considers an individual’s national origin in its enrollment decisions.”

The school did tell J.T.’s family that they are not required to enroll the boy because of his age. The school was referring to a state law that requires school attendance for all children between ages 6 and 17. However, as the SPLC explained in a letter to Mr. Cunningham, the law does not give a school the right to deny enrollment to a child who is over 16 years old. SPLC also pointed out that the action violates Alabama Department of Education policies and is also counter to a letter issued by the U.S. departments of justice and education in May 2011.

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