Fla. School Districts May be Deterring Immigrant Students: ACLU

Report shows half of school districts in Florida are not meeting federal standards when asking for Social Security numbers, the ACLU said

A report released by the American Civil Liberties Union Wednesday shows several Florida school districts are misleading families when it comes to disclosing Social Security numbers.

According to federal law, Social Security numbers are not required when enrolling a child in a public school. Should the district choose to request Social Security numbers, they must state that the disclosure is voluntary, the ACLU said.

Only 34 of all 67 county school districts in Florida received an A grade and properly complied with federal law, the report showed. Both the Dade and Monroe school districts were among the high-scorers and received A’s. The Broward School District, though, received a D rating.

School officials were not immediately available for comment Wednesday.

The report said almost half of the districts did not inform parents that Social Security numbers were optional, had varying policies and had deficiencies in their practices. Eleven districts were given F ratings, a release said.

The ACLU said they were concerned the low-scoring districts could be deterring immigrant admissions.

“Every Florida child has a constitutional right to an education, and having a Social Security number is not required to attend a public school,” Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida said in a release. “We cannot allow districts to give the false impression that Social Security numbers are required for enrollment and run the risk that children could be hidden from view and out of the classroom simply because their parents fear a legal review of their status.”

Central Florida fared particularly low with Orange and Osceola school districts receiving F grades, the ACLU said.

“The failure of districts in central Florida are especially troubling given the rapid growth of the Hispanic Community,” Ann Kendrick of the HOPE Community Center, which provides services to Central Florida’s immigrant communities, said in a release.

To view the ACLU report card and each district's rating, click here.

To read more about immigrants in South Florida, click here and here.

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