The term “immigrant children and youth” refers to individuals who:

  • are aged 3 – 21
  • Were not born in any state
  • “state” means the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Children born to U.S. citizens abroad (children born on a military base overseas) may be considered immigrants if they meet all the criteria in the definition of immigrant.
  • Have not been attending one or more schools in any one or more states for more than three full academic years.
  • A full academic year is 10 months of school attendance, kindergarten through 12th grade. If a student has been in different schools in different school districts and even in different states, the number of months that the student has been in school in any one or more states must not add up to a total of more than 3 full academic years.

To determine if a child is considered an immigrant, the Cocke County School District will ask new students to complete an immigrant education questionnaire during enrollment. Questions will include:

  • In what country was your child born?
  • When did our child first attend a school in the United States? (Kindergarten – 12th Grade)

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that undocumented children and young adults have the same right to attend public primary and secondary schools as do U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Like other children, undocumented students are obliged under state law to attend school until they reach a mandated age. As a result of the court ruling, public schools may not:

  • deny admission to a student during initial enrollment or at any other time on the basis of undocumented status
  • treat a student differently to determine residency
  • engage in any practices to “chill” the right of access to school
  • require students or parents to disclose or document their immigration status
  • make inquires of students or parents that may expose their undocumented status
  • require social security numbers from students