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Elmwood Park Schools May Lose State Funding

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School board members in Elmwood Park are holding an emergency meeting today. The district may lose millions of dollars in state funding for refusing to enroll a young immigrant at a local high school.

The Illinois State Board of Education made the decision yesterday to cut all funding to the district. This is the first time the state has punished a district in this way since 1989. Elmwood Park will lose more than $3 million in critical state aid it uses to pay teachers salaries.

Board officials say the district violated the rights of a 14-year-old immigrant from Ecuador when it refused to admit her to Elmwood Park High School. School officials say the young girl was in the country on a tourist visa and had no right to attend school. But State board chair Jesse Ruiz, whose father was once an undocumented immigrant, says state law and a 1982 U.S. Supreme Court ruling say different. Ruiz says, “It’s clear the court did not want students to be left out of school.”

The district will decide today whether to appeal the ruling. The girl has since moved out of the Elmwood Park system out of fear immigration authorities would find her.

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