Attorney, Legal Aid Justice Center
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Falls Church, Virginia (January 8, 2018) – In response to growing school enrollment barriers faced by immigrant students across Virginia, the Legal Aid Justice Center has released a practice guide, Dream Big: Education for Immigrant Students and Children of Immigrants. The guide clarifies the responsibilities of the Commonwealth’s school divisions to provide tuition-free education to all students, regardless of immigration status. It also outlines general school enrollment principles under Virginia law and answers common questions faced by attorneys and service providers who are assisting immigrant families.
“Virginia schools should be welcoming, supportive, and safe places for all students,” said Becky Wolozin, an attorney with the Legal Aid Justice Center and author of the practice guide. “Unfortunately, immigrant children and children who have immigrant parents often face unnecessary barriers to enrolling in school and obtaining the services they need to learn. We hope this guide will assist advocates in using state and federal protections to ensure that all children in Virginia have the opportunity to learn.”
The guide addresses some of the most common barriers to school enrollment faced by immigrant children, including unnecessary and onerous enrollment documentation requirements and family instability due to deportation. Using a question and answer format, the guide clarifies school division responsibilities to immigrant students and families. State and federal law protect the right of all children to attend public school, regardless of immigration status.