3.3.10: Immigrant Families: Know Your Educational Rights

3.3.10: Immigrant Families: Know Your Educational Rights

Your Child has the Right to a Free Public Education 

All children in the United States have a Constitutional right to equal access to free public education, regardless of immigration status and regardless of the immigration status of the students’ caregivers (trusted adult with the authority to make educational and medical decisions for your child). In California: 

  • All children have the right to a free public education. 
  • All children ages 6 to 18 years must be enrolled in school. 
  • All students and staff have the right to attend safe, secure, and peaceful schools. 
  • All students have a right to be in a public school learning environment free from discrimination, harassment, bullying, violence, and intimidation. 
  • All students have equal opportunity to participate in any program or activity offered by the school, and cannot be discriminated against based on their race, nationality, gender, religion, or immigration status, among other characteristics. 

Information Required for School Enrollment 

  • When enrolling a child, schools must accept a variety of documents from the student’s caregiver to demonstrate proof of child’s age and residency. 
  • You never have to provide information about citizenship/immigration status to have your child enrolled in school. Also, you never have to provide a Social Security number to have your child enrolled in school. 

Confidentiality of Personal Information 

  • Federal and state laws protect student education records and personal information. These laws generally require that schools get written consent from caregivers before releasing student information, unless the release of information is for educational purposes, is already public, or is in response to a court order or subpoena. 
  • Some schools collect and provide publicly basic student “directory information.” If they do, then each year, your child’s school district must provide caregivers with written notice of the school’s directory information policy, and let you know of your option to refuse release of your child’s information in the directory. 

Family Safety Plans if You Are Detained or Deported 

  • You can provide your child’s school with emergency contact information, including the information of secondary contacts, to identify a trusted adult guardian who can care for your child in the event you are detained or deported. 
  • You can complete a Caregiver’s Authorization Affidavit or a Petition for Appointment of Temporary Guardian of the Person, which may enable a trusted adult the authority to make educational and medical decisions for your child. 

Right to File a Complaint 

  • Your child has the right to report a hate crime or file a complaint to the school district if he or she is discriminated against, harassed, intimidated, or bullied on the basis of his or her actual or perceived nationality, ethnicity, or immigration status.


See the full Handbook and downloadable, translated PDFs at sfusd.edu/Handbook.

This page was last updated on July 11, 2024