Civil Rights Assistant Secretary to Address Event Marking 30th Anniversary of Plyler V. Doe Supreme Court Ruling

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Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Russlynn Ali will address a forum sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union to recognize the 30th anniversary of the Plyler v. Doe Supreme Court ruling Monday in Washington, D.C.

In that decision, the court held that a state may not deny access to a public education for any child residing in the state, whether present in the U.S. legally or otherwise. The ruling made clear that the undocumented or non-citizen status of a student (or his or her parent or guardian) is irrelevant to that student’s entitlement to an elementary and secondary public education.

“Plyler v. Doe teaches that all children have a constitutional right to attend public school on an equal basis — regardless of their immigration status or that of their parents,” Assistant Secretary Ali said. “Making good on that right benefits all of us because, as the Supreme Court said in that landmark decision, education gives children the ability ‘to live within the structure of our civic institutions’ and to contribute ‘to the progress of our nation.’ The Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Education remains committed to upholding the promise of Plyler.”

On May 6, 2011, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice issued a dear colleague letter mentioning the Plyler case as part of a general reminder that under federal law, state and local educational agencies are required to provide all children with equal access to public education at the elementary and secondary level. Click here to see the letter.

The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights works to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation through vigorous enforcement of civil rights. For more on the office, see, or follow on Twitter (@Edcivilrights).