Harrisburg School District’s Admissions Policy

District’s admissions policy denied enrollment after the tenth day of school to students under eight, unless they could show previous enrollment at a similar kindergarten program.

Attorneys/Firms: Witold Walczak, ACLU of Pennsylvania; Marielle Macher, Community Justice Project

The Harrisburg School District’s admissions policy led to the denial of enrollment in the 2016-17 academic year for four refugee students whose families had resettled in Harrisburg. On February 23, 2017, lawyers from the ACLU of Pennsylvania and Community Justice Project sent a letter to Superintendent Dr. Sybil Knight-Burney to inform her that the policy is illegal under federal and state law.

The four students were eventually enrolled in school, and, on July 24, the district issued a new guidance on the admissions policy. The ACLU of Pennsylvania and Community Justice Project are concerned that the guidance is vague and that the same problems will recur.

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