Parents enrolling their children in the Katy school district will no longer have to answer a previously mandatory question regarding the citizenship of their kids, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Officials have removed the query from online new-student enrollment materials, the newspaper story said.
Critics of the question removal were concerned it could scare parents away from enrolling their children in school in light of the divisive national debate on immigration. A 1982 U.S. Supreme Court decision requires U.S. public schools to enroll all students, regardless of their citizenship status.
Edgar Saldivar, a senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Texas, told the newspaper the question could have denied some children equal access to education because families would be afraid to divulge their citizenship status on the form and therefore might not send their children to school. He called the question irresponsible in today’s political climate full of anti-immigration rhetoric.
“Many Latinx and immigrant families in Texas now live in a constant state of angst, fearful that family members or friends could be targets of immigration enforcement,” he said.
District spokeswoman Maria Corrales DiPetta told the newspaper in an email that the citizenship question was asked only of newly enrolling students. After a Chronicle reporter inquired about the question on Wednesday, officials quickly removed it.
“Although responses to that question have never prevented a student from enrolling in Katy ISD, the question was immediately removed from the online form,” DiPetta wrote.