Cranford schools sued by ACLU over ID needed for registration

CRANFORD, NJ —Cranford is one of 12 New Jersey school systems, and the only one in Union County, being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey for what it claims is the district’s requirement for parents to have valid state-issued identification to register their children for school.

The suit says the district is denying “an education to students with parents who are undocumented immigrants.”
“The exclusionary policies are particularly disturbing in light of the climate of fear in immigrant communities, along with the number of schools that appeared on previous ACLU-NJ audits of discriminatory policies,” the ACLU said in a Thursday, July 26 press release that followed the filing of the suit in Superior Court.

Paul Ward, the director of human resources, said Superintendent Scott Rubin would need to speak for the district but was unavailable to comment.

Calls to the school board attorney, Anthony Sciarrillo of Westfield, board President Kurt Petschow and Vice President Lisa Carbone were not immediately returned.

The suit asks the court to immediately and permanently require Cranford to stop requiring state-issued identification, and asks that attorney fees and court costs be paid by the district.

In its suit, the ACLU claims the requirement is unconstitutional. ACLU attorney Elyla Huertas said the U.S. Supreme Court in its 1982 Plyler vs. Doe ruling, a 5-4 decision, that denying education to children of parents who are in the country illegally is a violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

The suit also says “New Jersey Administrative Code prohibits” the requirement of a state-issued photo identification document.

ACLU spokeswoman Allison Peltzman referred inquiries to the organization’s counsel handling the matter, who did not return the call.

Other schools and districts sued included in the suit are: Northern Valley Regional High School in Bergen County; Bellmawr, Sterling Regional and Winslow Township in Camden County; East Orange Community Charter School in Essex County; West New York in Hudson County; Sea Girt in Monmouth County; Harding Township in Morris County; Watchung Hills Regional in Somerset County; Montague in Sussex County; and Allamuchy in Warren County.

The suit will go before Union County Assignment Judge Karen Cassidy, a Cranford resident who has recused herself from lawsuits involving Cranford in the past, such as the Birchwood redevelopment project.