MAMARONECK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork)– A teenager who came to America from Guatemala will be allowed to go to school in Mamaroneck, for now.
The state is ordering the high school to let the boy in after the district tried to keep him out.
The 16-year-old student is referred to by the initials C.M. in documents provided to WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman. When his family moved to Mamaroneck in early April, his mother tried to enroll him in high school, but the district said no because he’s already completed Guatemala’s highest level of mandatory education.
C.M.’s family was confused and the New York Civil Liberties Union said he only got what amounts to a ninth grade education in Guatemala.
“The law doesn’t say that schools have a right to only admit kids who will be easy or make their scores go up,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman told WCBS 880 in early May.
Jordan Well is the attorney handling the case.
“It’s every student’s right to go to school in New York State. It’s a New York value, it’s a constitutional value and that’s what this appeal has sought to vindicate and so far that right has been vindicated,” he said.
The state education commissioner has ordered Mamaroneck to enroll C.M., at least until a final decision comes down.
The district sent WCBS 880 a statement regarding the decision and case.
“We respect the commissioner’s decision to grant the stay and will await the appeals process and final determination, which we realize could take several months. We continue to believe strongly that all children have the right to a public education,” the statement read. “We’ve taken steps to reach out to the family so this student can be enrolled, but we also recognize that the commissioner’s decision to uphold the stay has no bearing on the merits of this case.”
“That’s the school district’s option to continue to press their position. We look forward to getting a decision on the merits, but we think this is a positive indication,” Wells said.
Wells said it’s curious because New Rochelle, where C.M. lived at first, had no issue enrolling him.
“We have different schools applying different standards,” he said.
And this is not an isolated case. He said immigrant students from around the state have reported similar problems.
“This isn’t the first report about Mamaroneck that we’ve had where someone has had trouble enrolling in the school. Definitely troubling, I’m not sure it’s surprising unfortunately,” Wells said.
The attorney said C.M.’s family is just relieved he gets to go to school where he lives.