ELC is a longstanding advocate for the educational rights of students who are homeless, undocumented, living in overcrowded conditions, or with caregivers other than their parents. Historically, these circumstances heighten scrutiny of students’ eligibility for public school and increase the risk that they will be illegally denied admission.
For both the most up-to-date information on ELC’s residency work, please visit our News page.
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Advocacy & Litigation
In the groundbreaking case, J.A. v. Board of Education of South Orange and Maplewood, ELC obtained a ruling from the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of NJ establishing that students have a constitutionally protected property interest in a public education from the time they apply for admission. It spelled out written notice requirements and protections for applicants, required issuance of regulations to clarify school districts’ obligations regarding student residency, and ruled that a school district’s failure to comply with these protections could subject it to damages and fees.
In response to this ruling and extensive comments by ELC, the NJ Department of Education issued regulations that required: immediate enrollment of students in all cases except where denials are uncontested by the applicant; due process protections for students; and prohibition against basing public school admission on students’ housing or immigration status (N.J.A.C. 6A:22).
ELC continues to monitor implementation of the law and regulations, provide legal assistance in residency cases and assist attorneys willing to represent parents and students on a pro bono basis in these cases.
ELC recently released a newly updated and expanded advocacy tool, “Education Rights of Homeless Students: A Guide for Advocates.” The publication is designed to help parents, guardians, caregivers, and youth understand the circumstances that are considered “homelessness” under the school enrollment laws and the legal concepts, procedures, and rights involved in disputes over the enrollment of homeless students in local public schools.
ELC’s publication, “Understanding Public School Residency Requirements,” is designed to help parents, students and guardians understand the legal concepts involved in residency disputes, and to inform them of their legal rights.
To read additional ELC reports on student residency, visit the Publications page on this website.
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