In a letter sent to Superintendent Jim Cunningham, the SPLC described how 17-year-old J.T. was denied enrollment at Fort Payne High School without any legal justification in January. (Source: MGN)
FORT PAYNE, AL (WAFF) -
The Fort Payne City School District enrolled a Latino student who missed almost a semester of school. He was turned away from school twice. The district also took steps to ensure fair enrollment practices for all students, as announced by the Southern Poverty Law Center Thursday.
In a letter sent to Superintendent Jim Cunningham, the SPLC described how 17-year-old J.T. was denied enrollment at Fort Payne High School without any legal justification in January. The district took immediate action to address the concerns outlined in the letter, including enrolling J.T. in school the following day.
"J.T. just wanted to go to school, and now he gets to do exactly that," said Caren Short, the SPLC staff attorney. "We are thrilled with the results and appreciate the district's prompt action."
J.T. began attending classes April 10. "It feels great because I know I will be able to become what I want to be in life," said J.T. "I feel normal, too."
To ensure that no student is discriminated against on the basis of national origin, the Fort Payne City School District also revised its enrollment form to make it clear that failing to provide a Social Security number would not deny enrollment.
The district also removed from its website a memo that detailed a provision of the state's anti-immigrant law that required students provide a birth certificate to complete enrollment. That provision was previously blocked by courts.