ACLU alleges discrimination in 138 NJ districts

Part 87 of 87 in the series Educating America

By Mary C. Tillotson |

The ACLU has threatened to sue 138 school districts in New Jersey, alleging they’re discriminating against undocumented immigrants by requiring parents to provide a driver’s license or photo identification.

The ACLU, after it won its suit against one school district, surveyed other districts in the state and found 138 that require a photo ID.

Districts are allowed to test for a student’s age and residence but nothing else — and they must allow any school-age child in the district to enroll, said Alex Shalom, senior staff attorney for the ACLU-NJ, which has told school districts it would sue if they don’t comply within a month.

Most school districts have responded, saying they intend to comply with the law, said Heather Kays of Choice Media.

Bob Bowdon, executive director of Choice Media, said it may be unfair to allow undocumented residents — who may not be paying taxes — access to the school while taxpaying American citizens — who live in the next district over — cannot attend.

“We’re not a fan of education by zip code to begin with,” said Peter Hanley, executive director of the American Center for School choice and guest on the April 3 segment of Reform School. “That’s a big part of the problem. We shouldn’t be educating kids by zip code. Parents should be able to choose where their children go to school.”

Hanley and Choice Media also discussed Alaskan teacher tenure laws, three education reform proposals in Tennessee, food waste in Los Angeles schools, a federal charter school bill and a Tennessee teacher who stapled three students’ arms.

Contact Mary C. Tillotson at