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This Press Release may be read online at: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-13-09-2006-00.htm

Press Release: Wednesday, 13 September 2006, 29th Bhaadon, Samvat 538

Parent Power: Sikh Mother Tackles Illegal Question by Education Board

Carteret, New Jersey, USA: Linda Singh, mother of five, sought help from various organizations last month when she noticed that the Carteret Board of Education were asking an unlawful question pertaining to the immigration status of students on their re-registration form for the new school year.

UNITED SIKHS met with the Carteret Board of Education on August 24 2006 and persuaded them to review the unlawful question pertaining to immigration status on the student re-registration form for the Carteret public school system. The Carteret School Board Assistant Superintendent, Dennis Siddons, informed UNITED SIKHS that all schools in the Carteret School System would be sent an official notice on Monday September 11 clarifying that parents need not answer the question inquiring about the immigration status of their child.

Linda Singh, a resident of Cateret, said, “I’m happy they are sending a correction letter and I look forward to hearing the good news from my children‘s school. It’s a small step but a step in the right direction of protecting the Sikh community’s rights. I’m happy to have been involved in that and I hope more people would too.”

Linda Singh with son Dashvinder Singh , 5, and daughter Amrit Kaur , 8 months

The news comes as ACLU released the findings of their 9 month study which shows that one quarter of schools they surveyed were illegally requesting such information from school children.

To verify that children attending township schools do actually reside in town many school districts in NJ conducted a re-registration drive just before the start of the new school year this month. In late August Linda Singh sought the help of various organizations including UNITED SIKHS, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) when she noticed questions relating to the birthplace of children not born in the United States on the form. She pursued the case because she felt that questions asking about the child’s immigration status were intrusive and “not quite right”.

Facing increasing pressure in the media, the Carteret School District has now decided to make official their prior verbal assurance that leaving the contentious question blank would not invite negative repercussions on the parents.

Kuldip Singh of UNITED SIKHS Director noted, “It is important for people to be vigilant and to question their elected officials if they see something they feel is unfair or unlawful. It all comes down to individual responsibility and taking proactive action.”
ACLU of New Jersey released the results of a nine-month survey showing that one out of four schools in New Jersey were in violation of the law when they asked for information such as social security numbers or immigration status. It is in such instances that advocacy organizations like ACLU, UNITED SIKHS and SALDEF help individuals and communities find their voice.

Issued by:
Rajdeep Kaur
Program Coordinator

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