A coalition of civil rights groups on Tuesday urged the federal Justice Department to launch an investigation of two North Carolina school districts for discrimination by denying admission to - or turning away - immigrant children.
The complaint was filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, North Carolina Justice Center and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.
It is unconstitutional to refuse to let children register for school based on their age, immigration status, place of origin or inability to speak English, and the groups believe that this is a situation that occurs in various school districts in North Carolina, said SPLC staff attorney Caren Short by telephone.
Under North Carolina law, all students under age 21 have the right to attend public school at the place where they reside.
In the complaint, the groups mention the case of C.V., age 17, a Honduran girl who lives with her cousin in Buncombe County and who was allegedly denied the right to register for high school on the grounds that she was too old.
In addition, the complaint discusses the case of F.C., a Guatemalan boy living in Union County, who was also denied admission.
“I only wanted to attend high school, study hard and make a better life for myself,” F.C. said through an interpreter. “Every time my mother tried to enroll me in school, she encountered excuses and obstacles. It should not be so difficult to attend high school.”