TRENTON — The American Civil Liberties Union's New Jersey chapter has sued 12 school districts over enrollment practices that it says discriminate against children of immigrants who are living in the country illegally.

The suit claims the districts require forms of state-issued identification that can only be obtained by someone who is a citizen or has a Social Security number.

“New Jersey’s state Constitution calls for free public education, and that applies to every single child – no exceptions,” ACLU-NJ staff attorney Elyla Huertas, who filed the lawsuits, said in a statement.

The ACLU has sued 13 other New Jersey districts in recent years over similar disputes. All those suits were settled after the districts agreed to change their policies.

The districts are:

  • Northern Valley Regional High School District (Bergen County)
  • Bellmawr School District (Camden County)
  • Sterling Regional High School District (Camden County)
  • Winslow Township School District (Camden County)
  • East Orange Community Charter School (Essex County)
  • West New York School District (Hudson County)
  • Sea Girt School District (Monmouth County)
  • Harding Township School District (Morris County)
  • Watchung Hills Regional High School District (Somerset County)
  • Montague School District (Sussex County)
  • Cranford School District (Union County)
  • Allamuchy School District (Warren County)

The ACLU-NJ said several others districts impose "improper requirements" that hinder enrollment by immigrant parents but were not included in the suit.

“Public schools exist to educate all of a community’s children. The stakes are too high to allow these unlawful and discriminatory policies to continue, especially here, especially now," ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha said in a statement.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report

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