Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division jointly released two fact sheets: Protecting Access to Education for Migratory Children and Protecting Access to Education for Unaccompanied Children. The fact sheets use the term “migratory children” to include children who are highly mobile or have parents or guardians who are highly mobile. It uses the term “unaccompanied children” to include children who are under 18 years old, who do not have a parent or guardian in the United States available to provide care and physical custody, and who lack legal immigration status in the United States.
The fact sheets highlight specific challenges some migratory children and unaccompanied children may face while accessing public education. Additionally, these fact sheets explain where families can seek help and remind public schools of their responsibilities to migratory and unaccompanied children under federal civil rights laws. Specifically, public schools must:
- Be open to all students, including unaccompanied and migratory children, regardless of their or their parents' immigration status. Also, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits public schools from discriminating based on race, color, or national origin.
- Offer language assistance services to K-12 students who have limited English proficiency, including unaccompanied and migratory children. Schools must identify these students as English Learners so that they can receive services to enable them to meaningfully participate in the school's educational programs.
- Make information about enrollment, classes and other educational programs and activities accessible to parents and guardians who have limited English proficiency. Schools can accomplish this by providing accurate written translation or oral interpretation.
The fact sheets also provide links to several additional resources, including:
- Dear Colleague Letter: School Enrollment Procedures (May 2014)
- Fact Sheet: Information on the Rights of All Children to Enroll in School (May 2014)
- Dear Colleague Letter: English Learner Students and Limited English Proficient Parents (January 2015)
- Fact Sheet: Ensuring English Learners Can Participate Meaningfully and Equally in Educational Programs (January 2015)
- Fact Sheet: Confronting Discrimination Based on National Origin and Immigration Status (August 2021)