March 5, 2014
By Neal Tepel
Long Island, NY – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has announced an agreement with the Hempstead Union Free School District to ensure educational access for students regardless of their immigration status. Last October, the attorney general received complaints from community members in Hempstead that approximately 33 Hispanic students – many of them recent immigrants – were not admitted into schools within the Hempstead Union Free School District.
In response, Schneiderman and the New York State Education Department (SED) launched a joint review of enrollment policies within the school district.
The ensuing investigation confirmed that the district’s policies were designed to discourage undocumented students from enrolling in the district.
Beginning in the summer of 2014, and continuing through February 2015, the probe found the district denied or delayed the enrollment of dozens of students, many unaccompanied minors originating from Central and South America. On February 17, 2015, the SED issued an order to the district requiring it to immediately enroll all students awaiting enrollment and provide monthly affidavits of compliance to SED from the district’s superintendent and board president.
The district agreed to retain an ombudsman who will provide new internal oversight over enrollment policies within the district. Additionally, an independent monitor was retained by the district to ensure that student enrollment is in compliance with the law.
“Education is the bedrock of our American democracy, and every child in our nation – no matter where they were born – deserves the chance to attend school,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “I am pleased that Hempstead School District has agreed to come into compliance with the law, and that it will also provide additional services to any student who was, until now, unable to enroll in their local school. We will continue to work with school districts statewide to ensure that every child is treated equally and has full access to the tools needed to become productive members of society.”