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Plyler V Doe (1982)

Plyler V Doe
Did the Texas state legislature
violate the Equal Protection
Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment when they
passed a statute in 1975
allowing the state government
to deny undocumented
children a free public
Plyler V Doe
Summary of Facts
• A 1975 Texas Law allowed the state to deny
enrollment in public schools to foreign-born
children who were not “legally admitted” to
the United States.

• As a result of this new legislation, some school

districts began kicking their students out of
school, while others decided to charge them
• In 1977 the Tyler Independent School
District implemented a policy which required
foreign-born students to pay tuition
($1,000/year) if they were not “legally
admitted” citizens of the United States.
Plyler V Doe
Summary of Facts
• As a result of this new district policy, a
number of students filed a class action lawsuit.
The students were immigrants from Mexico
and they did not meet the districts policy of
being “legally admitted” citizens.

• The district court ruled that illegal aliens were

entitled to the protection of the Equal
Protection Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment and that the Texas legislation
had violated that provision.

• A federal appeals affirmed the district courts

ruling and the Supreme Court agreed to hear
the case.
Plyler V Doe
Summary of Facts
• In a 5-4 decision the Supreme Court stated
that the Texas law did violate the Equal
Protection Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment and illegal aliens are afforded
Fourteenth Amendment protections.

• Ultimately the Supreme Court felt that

denying illegal immigrants the right to an
education was an infringement on the
verbiage articulated in the 14th amendment.
“Nor shall any state deprive any person of life,
liberty, or property without due process of law;
nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction
the equal protection of the laws.”
Plyler V Doe
Implications for schools
School leaders must be cognizant of and
connected to the communities they
serve. Whether a school district’s
student population is comprised of
natural born citizens or immigrants,
educators and leaders alike are entitled
to providing each child a free public
education. The ruling in Plyler V Doe
gives educators and school districts a
legal basis for educating our populous
irrespective of race, creed, or country
of origin. It requires schools to
empower each individual by providing
them with an education.
Researched by: Anthony Gianaras