Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Complaint Alleges Alabama Denied Enrollment to Latino Student

A civil rights organization alleges that a teen who was born in Mexico was denied enrollment to an Alabama school district based on his national origin.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is demanding that the Fort Payne City School System admit the student by April 14. The SPLC said that the 17-year-old student was born in Mexico but moved to the United States at the age of one.

The SPLC also says that the student met with the superintendent and brought an enrollment application, proof of residency, immunization record and social security card.

However, the SPLC said the student was told he was denied enrollment because he had failed two classes the prior year. School officials also allegedly stated that they did not have to enroll him because he is 17.

The student’s parents also felt that their inability to speak English played a factor. No interpreter was provided in meetings.

CNN reports that Fort Payne Superintendent Jim Cunningham released a statement saying that the schools do not consider national origin in enrollment decisions. 

The SPLC reports that the teen has said he feels like a dropout and once had dreams of joining the military.

“Fort Payne school officials have stood in the way of our clients getting an education simply because he was born in Mexico,” SPLC staff attorney Caren Short said in a statement. “These discriminatory practices have already cost our client valuable class time. It must stop.”