Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is filing a civil rights lawsuit against the Utica City School District.

The suit alleges the District has discriminated against immigrant students between the ages of 17 and 20 by denying them access to equal educational opportunities.

Schneiderman says that since at least 2007, the District has diverted immigrant students above the age of 16 away from Proctor High School and into alternative programs that were academic dead-ends.

The AG claims the District's practices have effectively deprived many refugees and immigrants the opportunity to obtain meaningful education and a high school diploma.

“Every New Yorker under the age of twenty-one has a right to attend public school in the District in which they reside, regardless of immigration status or national origin,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Access to a quality education is the foundation of the American Dream.  School districts cannot place arbitrary impediments and barriers in the way of immigrants and refugees who have struggled to achieve a better life for themselves and their families.”

Utica School District Superintendent Bruce Karam issued the following statement on the lawsuit:

The Utica City School District staff has been looking into these allegations since being contacted by the Attorney General’s office last year and have found the claim to be without basis or merit.  The Utica City School District has never refused to enroll any eligible student due to their age.

For over 30 years, the Utica City School District has welcomed, educated, and valued the contributions of all of our students who have come here to better their lives. To date we have approximately 1,700 English Language Learners enrolled in our school district, including over 200 English Language Learners who are between the ages of 17-21.

Our teachers, principals and staff work very hard each day and take great pride in providing high quality educational opportunities for all of our students and we will continue to do so into the future.

New York Senator Joseph Griffo has responded to Schneiderman's action by issuing the following release:

Courtesy: Office of NY Senator Joseph Griffo