English Language Learning
The Rights of Children to Receive a Free Public Education
Does my child have a right to receive an education, regardless of immigrant status?
YES! The Illinois Constitution guarantees every person access to a free public education from kindergarten through grade 12. Additionally, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Plyler v. Doe that undocumented children have the same right as U.S. citizens and permanent residents to receive a free public education. As a result, all school districts have a legal obligation to provide all students with a free education.
It is important to understand that a school district cannot require you provide information concerning your or your child's immigration status or Social Security number. Therefore, you should not be discouraged from enrolling your child in school.
How do I prove that I live within the school district where I want to send my child?
If you own a house, rent an apartment or live with someone within the school district and you are the parent or adult with whom the child regularly lives, then the school district is required by law to provide the child an education.
The school district may require that you provide certain information to prove where you live. Some examples include
- library card;
- employee identification;
- utility bills;
- apartment lease or deed to real estate;
- notarized affidavit (sworn statement) of residency from the parent or person with whom the child is residing, affirming that the child eats and sleeps at the residence.
What information is required for enrollment?
School districts are required by law to ask for a certified copy of a birth certificate of every newly enrolled child. If a birth certificate is unavailable, then other proof of the child's identity and age, supported by a sworn statement explaining why the birth certificate cannot be produced, is required. The school district is also required to have proof that the child has received proper medical care.
Who can I call for assistance?
If you would like more information or a clarification of this issue, call the Illinois State Board of Education's Information and Reception Center at 312/814-2222 or 217/782-2222.
For Spanish inquiries, call the State Board's Center for Innovation and Reform at 312/814-3850 or members of your local school's bilingual advisory council.