Until 1982, Texas law prohibited local school districts from using state funds to educate illegal alien minors; furthermore, districts were allowed to deny enrollment to such school-age minors. In 1982, however, the Texas law was deemed unconstitutional. In Plyler v. Doe, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Texas law violated the equal protection provisions of the 14th Amendment. As a result of Plyler v. Doe, states may not deny access to public education to illegal alien minors residing within their boundaries. Subsequent court cases resulted in prohibitions against attempts to identify illegal alien minors because of the perception that they could then be discriminated against. As a result of the state school funding formulas, the cost ($7,085) of any student added to the enrollment of a local school district is borne by the state, regardless of legal status. Because the state system of school finance treats local property tax revenue as interchangeable with appropriated state funds, local and state costs are combined in the cost per student. The Comptroller’s office estimates that there were about 135,000 undocumented children in Texas public schools during the 2004-05 school year, or about 3 percent of total public school enrollment. The Texas Education Agency reports that, during 2004-05, the average state and local expenditure per student was $7,085 (this excludes federal funds). Applying this figure to the estimated number of illegal alien minors in public schools, the Comptroller estimates that the cost of educating illegal alien minors in 2004-05 was slightly less than $957 million. Can you imagine what the costs must be today? Tomorrow?
excerpt by Dale Huls, July 2014