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City, county schools will not turn students away

The recent signing of the immigration bill into Alabama law has caused some frustration for many who have to show multiple forms of identification as proof they are U.S. citizens.

And with the immigration law now taking effect in courthouses and institutions across the state, the Legislature’s new regulations have trickled into education, leaving many children’s educational future in limbo.

According to Section 28 of the Act, all students who plan to enroll in Alabama’s public schools on or after Sept. 29, 2011, must present an original or certified copy of a birth certificate.

In a release Tuesday, the State Department of Education Interim State Superintendent of Education Larry E. Craven said the department would like to alleviate some of the confusion. Regardless of whether or not the student enrolling has an original or certified copy of a birth certificate, Craven said, the student will still be able to enroll and have full participation in academic, co-curricular and extracurricular activities.

“The information that we are required to collect under the Act will not be used to individually identify your child,” Craven said. “The information will be used to report statistical data to the Legislature. Alabama’s public schools welcome all children regardless of their race or ethnic background, birthplace or birthplace of parents.”

Selma City Superintendent of Education Don Jefferson said because the Selma City School System is Title I, it must enroll all students regardless of forms they do or don’t have.

“We have to enroll students without barriers,” Jefferson said.

“The school system has a 10-day window to check for verification such as proof of residency or legitimate enrollment. We will not turn anyone away … there are some districts if the child doesn’t have a blue chart or certificates they don’t allow them to enroll, but we don’t do that, they have 10 days.”

Dallas County Schools Assistant Superintendent Don Willingham said regular enrollment requirements such as proof of residency and guardianship, transcripts from prior schools and immunization records, hasn’t changed.

Superintendent of Education Dr. Fannie McKenzie said the school system follows directives set forth by ADOE and will not turn any student away.

“We ask for birth certificates but if the student does not have one, we don’t turn them around,” McKenzie said.

“We give students 30 days to give a birth certificate or supplemental information. If a child born outside jurisdiction or outside of U.S., we’ll ask for additional information. All we’re to do is report child as enrolling without birth certificate.”

Craven said the new law does not apply to any student enrolled in an Alabama public school before Sept. 29, 2011. Once a student is enrolled, Craven said, a student is always enrolled unless he or she graduates or withdraws.

According to ADOE, on Monday, Oct. 3, 2,285 Hispanic students were absent statewide. Numbers continued to drop with 1, 525 absent Oct. 4 and 1,357 absent on Wednesday.
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