SAN ANTONIO, TX  – MALDEF attorneys sent a letter to a Texas school district Friday warning that it was in violation of the U.S. Constitution for treating parents with foreign government-issued identification differently than parents with Texas-issued IDs.

In the letter sent to the Southside Independent School District in San Antonio, MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) explains that community advocates and news reports indicate that the district had excluded from school campuses, or segregated on campus, parents with foreign government-issued IDs. Such practices violate the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of equal access to public education, the letter says.

Additionally, the letter warns, such practices also run afoul of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Plyler v. Doe, a landmark legal case brought by MALDEF that established that all children, regardless of immigration status, have a constitutional right to a free public education from kindergarten through 12th grade.

“Southside ISD’s policy excludes immigrant parents from its schools,” said Nina Perales, MALDEF Vice President of Litigation.  “There is no justification, either in the Texas Education Code or in the technology used by the district, for treating immigrant parents differently from other parents and for limiting students’ contact with their parents during school-sponsored events.”

MALDEF sent the letter after a Southside ISD meeting at which parents and community members complained that parents without Texas driver’s licenses were being banned from school campuses. At the meeting, two mothers with children at two different schools described being turned away from their children’s campus, or restricted from certain areas of the campus, when they showed foreign IDs. The Southside ISD Superintendent, Mark Eads, admitted that the district required parents to show a Texas driver’s license or state identification card, according to a local news report.

The MALDEF letter goes on to explain that although asking parents who visit the district’s campuses for identification is allowed under the Texas Education Code, Southside ISD cannot use the practice in a discriminatory manner.  Further the letter points out that the school district employs a software program for screening visitors that does not require a Texas-issued ID.

Read the Letter HERE.