The Southern Poverty Law Center today sued the Alabama Department of Education, claiming the state is withholding information about how a controversial part of the state's new immigration law affected Hispanic school children.
Section 28 of the state's immigration law required schools around the state to collect information on the immigration status of students and their parents.
It was only in effect for about two weeks last October before it was blocked by a federal appeals court, but opponents of the law like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the federal department of justice say it scared a lot of Hispanic students and made them get out of Alabama schools.
In a letter to the state back in May, the Deptartment of Justice says it used the state's own numbers to calculate that the number of Hispanic school-age children in Alabama schools dropped 13.4 percent compared to before the immigration law was put in place.
The SPLC filed an open records request to get a look at the same information, but was denied by the state.
Now they're suing to force the Deptartment of Education to turn over the data.
"We hope we'll get the documents soon and be able to show the public what the effectsof this law are," said Sam Brooke, an SPLC attorney. "So the public can decide for itself whether HB56 is having good effects or bad."
The Deptartment of Education declined to comment on the lawsuit today.
Gov. Robert Bentley issued the following statement on the SPLC lawsuit today:
We have complied with the law and those with jurisdiction over it. We have provided information and data as requested, with the exception of any request that would violate current federal privacy laws. Any information provided to the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) was done so with the understanding that Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act laws be maintained. The data in question was compiled as a result of ongoing negotiations with the USDOJ as part of an active investigation and are not considered public records. We believe strongly in transparency, while at the same time respecting and adhering to the privacy rights of Alabama students. We welcome the opportunity to work with the SPLC. No additional data has been collected pursuant to the order of the appeals court.
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