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School funds stripped

Friday, Feb 24, 2006

This story is kinda strange because the kid in question may be here legally, on a tourist visa.

In a drastic and unprecedented move, Illinois education officials on Thursday voted to cut off state funds to the Elmwood Park school district for refusing to admit an immigrant teen to its high school.

The action not only blocks the district from collecting $3.3 million in state aid, but could bar its student athletes from competition. Although district officials can appeal, it remains unclear whether doing so would enable them to receive their next state payment of $331,587 due next week.

Amid tense and emotional exchanges with district officials Thursday, the Illinois State Board of Education signaled that it will move swiftly and powerfully to protect the right of immigrant children to go to public schools, regardless of their immigration status.

“Frankly, I’m offended that we are dealing with this,” said board chairman Jesse Ruiz, who mentioned that his own father had been an undocumented immigrant from Mexico before becoming a citizen. […]

School officials in Elmwood Park refused to admit the girl and allegedly told her that they would report her to immigration authorities, said Alonzo Rivas, a staff attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, who talked to the girl about suing the district.

Please read the whole story before commenting. Thanks.

UPDATE: The school board has backed down.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

32 Comments
  1. - Shelbyville - Friday, Feb 24, 06 @ 8:31 am:

    Well, that whole story just demonstrates the closed mindedness of some school districts. I can imagine the salary that the superintendent is making. The governor should step in and tell this school to admit the student.

    Having lived in a state where immigration is a problem, that state dealt with problems every day. But the students were admitted and then the paper work was secured.

    I hope this school does miss a paycheck. They have their heads in a well.


  2. - "Fougettaboutit" - Friday, Feb 24, 06 @ 8:38 am:

    Eh, where is Skippy “Savy”iano, he can git dis done wit a “call”…EP in trouble, Fougettaboutit


  3. - Pat collins - Friday, Feb 24, 06 @ 8:45 am:

    No, the school should be COMMENDED. They are SAVING dollars where they can. AND there is FEDERAL law that lets ANYONE report an illegal to INS.

    They may have to admit, but they can ALSO report.


  4. - HoosierDaddy - Friday, Feb 24, 06 @ 8:49 am:

    Since when does a “tourist” need to enroll in school here?


  5. - Truthful James - Friday, Feb 24, 06 @ 8:57 am:

    We are fast approaching the time when Illinois should secede from the United States and apply for statehood in Mexico. Chihuahua is taken, but we are sure going to the dogs.

    When the kid(s) get into school, the parents — also illegal — get the right to stay as guardians.


  6. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, Feb 24, 06 @ 9:07 am:

    Funny, I missed the part where the school board said they were anxious to refund the property taxes paid by the girl’s guardian.

    BTW, Illinois educated hundreds and hundreds of non-resident immigrants every day. They are called exchange students, and most people think having them in our classrooms benefits our students just as much.

    In case you conservatives haven’t noticed, we are at WAR, and we have very few allies in the world. We should be begging for the opportunity to immerse children from other countries in our culture, to show them we’re not just a bunch of SUV driving, American Idol watching, gun-toting morons.


  7. - Anon - Friday, Feb 24, 06 @ 9:08 am:

    Listen carefully, and somewhere in the distance you can hear the, whoosh, whoosh, whoosh,” of the Oberweis Helicopter coming in to survey the scene.


  8. - Truthful James - Friday, Feb 24, 06 @ 9:20 am:

    YDD –

    I am proud and happy to see you wrap yourself in the flag on this issue. Or is it a flag of convenience?


  9. - Cassandra - Friday, Feb 24, 06 @ 9:35 am:

    This is probably not where I should present my program to make Mexico the 51st state. It’s a beautiful country and we could fix up its economy; it has great weather, wonderful tourist attractions, and annexation would make it easier for baby boomers to retire there.

    Yes, I know the kid in question is Ecuadorian…and if there are reasonable legal
    bases for her to stay, she should stay.

    But what is all this really about. Elmwood Park
    is a mostly white community with a median income
    in the low $50,000 range, seen locally as a blue collar community. Blue collar whites may feel more threatened than rich whites by an influx of
    economic migrants. And there is certainly a perception that the Blago-Tusk team is more interested in the black and Hispanic vote than in the white middle class vote. Could this boomerang on old Blago. Or do their numbers say,
    whites don’t count in this state politically.


  10. - Callahan - Friday, Feb 24, 06 @ 9:58 am:

    These strong arm tactics are going to become more common place as the now politicized and gubernatorially-subservient State Board of Education begins to flex its muscles. Just watch. I wouldn’t be surprised if the PR generated by this story emboldens SBE to use the state aid threat to enforce all phases of the Blago agenda, from the Twinkie ban to preschool to free books for all kids.


  11. - Southern Illinoisian - Friday, Feb 24, 06 @ 10:04 am:

    I have to laugh at the bleeding hearts who confer “rights” upon those who are illegally in this country. “Undocumented” means they are breaking the law. We have immigration laws for a reason, and if they don’t like it, THEN WORK TO CHANGE IT.

    The morons that babble about diversity, and “other cultures” don’t get it: THIS IS THE UNITED STATES.

    You want to experience other cultures, then GO THERE. I don’t see “other cultures” particularly welcoming us right now, eh?

    The school board should just report her as illegal, and let the courts have it her. The state board is nothing but an institutionalized arm of the Dumbocrats, they are irrelevant to the issue.

    I always recall my favorite Teddy Roosevelt quote when the immigration issue arises:

    “In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American…There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag… We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language… and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”


  12. - Tony Soprano - Friday, Feb 24, 06 @ 10:17 am:

    Maybe Chopper Jim could pick her up in the helipcopter??


  13. - shelbyville - Friday, Feb 24, 06 @ 10:20 am:

    Read the story, like Rich suggested. The young lady is not “an illegal alien.” She is meerly transfering between IL. school districts, legally.


  14. - cermak_rd - Friday, Feb 24, 06 @ 10:24 am:

    The most bizarre thing going on here is that US law clearly states (as decided by the Supremes) that undocumented alien children are allowed an education. Elmwood Park apparently agrees with that law because the last time this came up, when the student’s tourist visa turned out to have expired, the Elmwood Park schools allowed the child to attend because the student was undocumented. In this case, the student’s tourist visa is valid, so Elmwood Park is arguing that the law regarding undocumented immigrants is not relevant.

    As an IL community, however, Elmwood Park should find itself subject to IL law. If it doesn’t agree with that law, then it can do without state aid or accrediting.


  15. - Anonymous - Friday, Feb 24, 06 @ 11:16 am:

    Southern Illinoisan,

    It’s too bad the native Americans didn’t have your perspective on things.


  16. - Pat collins - Friday, Feb 24, 06 @ 11:21 am:

    overstaying a tourist visa is a common way to become illegal. Looks like Elmwood park FOUND a loophole.

    What is really interesting is this: Given the FEDERAL law that you MAY report illegals with NO adverse consequences, can the state be SUED in Federal court for civil rights intimidation?


  17. - cermak_rd - Friday, Feb 24, 06 @ 11:45 am:

    Since the state isn’t taking this action due to the reporting to INS or not by Elmwood Park officials, I would say that the state can’t be sued.

    The real issue here is state law which clearly states that districts must educate every child showing residency in the district. Further, state law forbids failure to educate students unable to show documentation regarding immigration status. The state board also tells districts not to ask students about their citizenship status. It would seem that Elmwood Park is failing to comply with these state laws. Even if they rescind their decision, it would seem the Elmwood Park board should be punished in some way for ignoring state law.


  18. - not heartless - Friday, Feb 24, 06 @ 12:24 pm:

    Could you POSSIBLY get ANY more WORKED up about this ISSUE while evincing a total lack of empathy for the young girl at the center of this? She didn’t pick this fight; the school district did. All she wants is an education, and she should hardly be blamed for that. If only more native-born American kids were as interested in school as this young woman appears to be.

    Besides, if the GOP gets its way, all vestiges of the Enlightenment will be swept away and no sane person anywhere else on planet Earth will have any interest in coming to the US for an education. What would they learn? Creation science? How to lie to the White House press corps? How to balance the federal budget on the backs of the poor and elderly?


  19. - the wonderboy - Friday, Feb 24, 06 @ 12:47 pm:

    This is an issue that should definitely come into play during the upcoming primary…

    The only personal view which I will interject is that I truly believe that this country must do something about immigration issues. Looking beyond the specific details in this case (illegal or not, whether the district violated state law, etc), we must accept that until this country takes drastic steps to change immigration problems, we should not punish those who are here. Our inability to effectively enforce our immigration requirements should not lead to the punishment of a child who deserves a chance to improve their life.

    There, I said it…now let the comments about how un-American, liberal, bleeding-heart, stupid, “dumbocrat”, etc, etc, etc begin. By the way, I consider myself a Republican…so you can throw in the RINO comments as well…sorry for having a compassionate view in this case.


  20. - Pat collins - Friday, Feb 24, 06 @ 1:23 pm:

    The real issue here is state law which clearly states that districts must educate every child showing residency in the district. Further, state law forbids failure to educate students unable to show documentation regarding immigration status.
    So far so good

    The state board also tells districts not to ask students about their citizenship status

    Nope. A Federal Law passed (1996,I think) expresses FORBIDS any punishment of those who DO report illegals.

    And why aren’t we concerned about the US kids getting their education dollars diluted by illegals?


  21. - donchicago48 - Friday, Feb 24, 06 @ 1:37 pm:

    If the girl’s immigration status does not legally qualify her to attend school, then her application must be denied in accordance with governing Illinois or Federal statutes. The questions raised by this girl’s situation are a matter for the courts to decide. The parties can seek injunctive relief if their legal positions merit it. The girl’s legal standing in the courts is quite limited under US Law.
    Legal issues are one thing, but the general policy issues raised by related incidents are also important. In Illinois, the presence of an illegal immigrant polulation is a given. The policy question that matters is how Illinois government deals with the impacts of a large and growing alien population. Clearly, Immigration, border security, Immigrant status, and Immigration Law Enforcement are all Federal issues. To the extent the Federal Government fails to address illegal immigration, the flow of illegals into states like Illinois constitutes a huge unfunded mandate. These individuals must be treated in accordance with our laws, but if there is no legal recourse at the state level for their removal, then our schools should educate them well, our hospitals should treat them, and our social services should be available to them. At the same time, Illinois should continue its efforts to force the Federal Government to fund the states’ expenses for these activities.
    Our schools should promote education policies that foster rapid assimmilation by immigrant students of any status into American culture. English language training and American cultural training are important. Should we fail as a society to protect our language and culture, we could well lose them.


  22. - Truthful James - Friday, Feb 24, 06 @ 1:41 pm:

    Of course it is not the child’a ‘fault.’ Behind is an adult…pushing the child into the line of fire…for gain. Just like the full term pregnant mothers birthing on U.S. soil.

    Immigrants stand in line and fulfill all the requirements, waiting months and years to fit in under the legal quotas.

    Send them back. It is fair play for all who wish to come.


  23. - ArchPundit - Friday, Feb 24, 06 @ 1:49 pm:

    ===We are fast approaching the time when Illinois should secede from the United States and apply for statehood in Mexico. Chihuahua is taken, but we are sure going to the dogs.

    Strange, but the student in question is Ecuadorian. But you know, they all look a like to some people (though my guess is she is white given her name). I guess.

    More fun is that the student isn’t an undocumented, but on a visa that is somewhat restrictive. The District isn’t even arguing she is illegal, they are arguing she isn’t a resident. The problem with that is that if the child is undergoing some sort of review or other process related to her immigration status, that’s up to INS to figure out, not for a school district to attempt to parse. Does she meet the definition of residency for the State of Illinois? If yes, she gets enrolled–B-1 Status isn’t created around the same considerations.

    For those who want the District to report her, it’s unclear what is supposed to be reported? Universities often have to deal with these issues and they spend inordinate amounts of time and money on it–why Elmwood would want to be in that role is baffling.


  24. - ArchPundit - Friday, Feb 24, 06 @ 2:01 pm:

    It’s rather stunning that even though Rich said to read the story, many of you didn’t

    ===The saga began in November, when the 14-year-old girl tried to enroll at Elmwood Park High School.

    The teen had lived with her mother and older sister in the Chicago suburbs for several years and attended schools in the area, said attorneys at the state board. But the girl’s mother suffered a stroke and moved to Florida, and the girl moved in with a friend in Elmwood Park.

    School officials in Elmwood Park refused to admit the girl and allegedly told her that they would report her to immigration authorities, said Alonzo Rivas, a staff attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, who talked to the girl about suing the district.

    It would appear to be that aspersions to her current guardian are completely unwarranted since there is no indication that person is getting any gain out of this, but is instead helping a kid stay where she grew up. Depending on how long the child has been in the country, she may not even have required the Visa she currently has–especially if her stay began before 2001.

    My guess is that the mother being in a different state, though still in the United States created a rather technical problem regarding her visa status and she got a tourist visa not knowing what to do, but wanting to continue her education in the area where she had grown up.


  25. - Truthful James - Friday, Feb 24, 06 @ 2:01 pm:

    Not so baffling, Arch. The local school district is restricted in its ability to raise through property taxes the local share of school costs by PTELL. Let’s say that the Fed-State-Local split is 20-40-40. The State is raised on a per pupil foundation level. The Local is done on a taxable valuation of the District. No relation to the attendance. Not sure of the Fed. Nearly all Districts are taxing to the max. Passing referenda to support the eduxation of illegal aliens is not an easy deal. The ISBE and the state legislature keep pitching on unfunded mandates, by the way. Elmwood Park took a stand.


  26. - donchicago48 - Friday, Feb 24, 06 @ 2:31 pm:

    not heartless - Friday, Feb 24, 06 @ 12:24 pm said:
    “How to balance the federal budget on the backs of the poor and elderly?”

    In 2003, the bottom 50% of taxpayers (those with AGI below $29K) paid just 3.46% of total income taxes. Indeed, many actually got refunds greater than their income tax witheld. In other words, if half the taxpayers paid no income taxes at all, the IRS would still collect 96.54% of the income tax revenues. So just exactly how does the budget get balanced “on the backs of the poor and elederly?”

    After-tax incomes of low-income seniors would be disproportionately hurt by a Democrat-supported expiration of the current reduced tax rates on capital gains and stock dividends.

    It will take considerable liberl spin to twist these undeniable Internal Revenue Service statistics.


  27. - ArchPundit - Friday, Feb 24, 06 @ 3:07 pm:

    ===Passing referenda to support the eduxation of illegal aliens is not an easy deal. The ISBE and the state legislature keep pitching on unfunded mandates, by the way. Elmwood Park took a stand.

    She is not undocumented. Read the story.


  28. - Emily Booth - Friday, Feb 24, 06 @ 7:09 pm:

    I think the issue here is her immigration status. The teenager is here on a tourist visa. The law determines who is not considered to be a resident of Illinois. Tourists are not considered residents of Illinois for public assistance programs. It looks like the school board is following a similiar policy in determining who is an Illinois resident. Citizenship is a totally separate body of law. Elmwood Park should’ve kept the girl in school until the courts decided the issue. The State Board should’ve worked with Elmwood Park instead of being so cut-throat and heavy handed.


  29. - What a Hypocrite - Friday, Feb 24, 06 @ 7:10 pm:

    I wonder why the State Board of Education picked on Elmwood Park and have not picked on other districts who do the same things, and worse things to a greater majority of the students!
    If Mr. Ruiz would look at the Proviso 209 district, he would see the same pattern of abuse by school officials toward immigrants and ilegal aliens! He would also see the abuse of power and stealing occuring in the 209 district! He would have to address why the lowest scoring high school in Cook County, has 4 superintendents who are being paid,with two of them sitting at home, and even more appaling why Proviso District 209 Janitors ger pain $46,000 starting pay, while starting teachers get paid $34,000!
    I guess Mr. Ruiz is not appaled by this action, because hundreds of complaints have been made to the State Board of Education and they have yet to do anything or say anthing, and of course they won’t intervine!
    Is it because Proviso 209 is Democratic Bastion?Is Ruiz and the Board afraid to do anything?
    Is Elmwood park Republican and that’s why they do it?
    What experience does Ruiz have in education?
    Het Ruiz, why don’t you be fair across the board, and stop acting hysterical,because this will back fire on the Governor’s re-election bid!


  30. - The Conservative - Saturday, Feb 25, 06 @ 7:09 am:

    This just demonstrates what the American people are saying. The Bleeding Heart Liberals, just don’t understand. Illegal is Illegal. They should be sent back if we know where they are not rewarded. This is all twisted, no wonder politicians and corporate managers make bad decisions. We are sending mixed signals as to what is right and wrong. This is Black and white. Send Illegals back, no rewards. They need to go through the process and come in legally. What is so hard to see about this.


  31. - The Colonel - Saturday, Feb 25, 06 @ 8:03 am:

    Hardly any news outlet got the story correct; maybe they didn’t want to.

    The kid involved is here on a TOURIST visa; IL taxpayers are not obligated to educate tourists — except when you have Blago’s state board blackmailing you.

    How sick.


  32. - PatriotUSA - Sunday, Feb 26, 06 @ 8:20 pm:

    Please read Steyn in the Sun-Times, Sunday Edition, and then realize that the “immigrant” that you admit to our Illinois school system today may be the “immigrant” that slits your childs throat tomorrow “for a cause”. We are not speaking only of our Mexican friends to the south when we speak of “undocumented aliens” but of unilateral undocumented “immigrants”… “illegals” if you will. See Paris news today regarding the Jewish god-created human who had his throat slit to the point of decapitation, his face clawed off by a fork, left in an apartment parking lot for dead as the Islamic attacker ran back to his apartment upstairs with blood streaming from his arms screaming “I have killed my Jew and will reap my rewards” (or something very similar). No, our Mexican friends are not the problem.. The “process” that will allow killer “immigrants” into our society will be the ultimate problem.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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