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New Rochelle School District Puts Student Re-Registration on Hold Following Complaints by New York Civil Liberties Union

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New Rochelle School District Puts Student Re-Registration on Hold Following Complaints by New York Civil Liberties Union

July 24, 2018 - 16:27

New York State Commissioner of Education MaryEllen Elia

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NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Schools Superintendent Dr. Brian Osborne announced today that the City School District of New Rochelle has put a hold on its re-registration process in response to guidance sent by the New York State Education Department on July 19, 2018 and a subsequent letter to the District from state Commissioner of Education MaryEllen Elia. 

In her letter, Elia states that district-wide re-registration is inconsistent with the intent of State Education Law which only allows a school district to make determinations of non-residency for individual students

“The regulations do not contemplate the practice, as described above, of requiring all students to “re- register” with the district regardless of whether a question exists as to the residency status of each individual student,” wrote Jhone M. Ebert, Senior Deputy Commissioner for Education Policy, in a second letter forwarded by Elia.

As a result, all appointments to re-register during the time period July 24 through August 7 are cancelled.

According to an email sent to the New Rochelle school community, “Further discussion of the process and the State Education Department’s guidance will take place at the August 7, 2018 Board of Education meeting.”

The action by Commissioner Elia comes three days after the New York Civil Liberties Union sent an statement to media outlets calling the re-registration process in New Rochelle "discriminatory", saying the process “may discriminate against homeless students, those from low-income households, immigrants and students of color.”

NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “Creating barriers for students to access public education serves no purpose other than to further marginalize those who are already vulnerable and does nothing to ensure the safety and well-being of the students.” 

July 20 letter from Commissioner of Education MaryEllen Elia 

July 19 letter from the NYS Education Department 

RELATED: NYCLU Warns New Rochelle School District Against Plan to Re-Register Students 

https://www.nyclu.org/en/press-releases/nyclu-warns-new-rochelle-school-...

UPDATE: Colleen Wilson of lohud has an excellent article with additional information on this story:

 

New Rochelle suspends student re-registration after warning from state education officials

 

https://www.lohud.com/story/news/education/2018/07/24/new-rochelle-halts...

 

Info from the District:

“Osborne and the district's lawyers spoke via conference call with Education Department officials regarding the guidelines and letter, a district spokesman said. The issue will be discussed with the board at its Aug. 7 meeting.”

Info from the NYCLU:

“We are glad the district is listening to concerns about the potential harm of this re-registration plan on marginalized students, and appreciate the involvement of NYSED and the Commissioner," Stefanie Coyle, education counsel for the CLU, said in a statement. "Putting the re-registration plan on hold gives the district the opportunity to make sure that no child is unfairly pushed out of the district by this process. We hope to continue working with the district to ensure that every child has access to free, public education as required by law.”

Information from Amy Paulin:

“State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, whose district includes New Rochelle, questioned the the Education Department's justification for opposing student re-registration. She said that process to determine student eligibility would create a fair playing field for all students.

"There’s no other fair way of determining which students might be falsely claiming residency," she said. "Otherwise, you’re relying on neighbors to squeal on neighbors. You're punishing one child unfairly and not another child because they didn’t get caught."

Paulin said she is going to review the intent of state law that addresses the registration of students.

"The letter (the state Education Department) sent doesn’t have any detail as to why they believe the law intended it to be one way or the other," she said. "Show me the proof."”

“We are glad the district is listening to concerns about the potential harm of this re-registration plan on marginalized students, and appreciate the involvement of NYSED and the Commissioner," Stefanie Coyle, education counsel for the CLU, said in a statement. "Putting the re-registration plan on hold gives the district the opportunity to make sure that no child is unfairly pushed out of the district by this process. We hope to continue working with the district to ensure that every child has access to free, public education as required by law.”

Information from Amy Paulin:

“State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, whose district includes New Rochelle, questioned the the Education Department's justification for opposing student re-registration. She said that process to determine student eligibility would create a fair playing field for all students.

"There’s no other fair way of determining which students might be falsely claiming residency," she said. "Otherwise, you’re relying on neighbors to squeal on neighbors. You're punishing one child unfairly and not another child because they didn’t get caught."

Paulin said she is going to review the intent of state law that addresses the registration of students.

 

"The letter (the state Education Department) sent doesn’t have any detail as to why they believe the law intended it to be one way or the other," she said. "Show me the proof."”