Back to table of contents >>


Right to an Education


A public school education is available to all, free of charge, if you are a resident of Utah and your school district, or if you are over 18 and live in the state of Utah and have not completed high school and your class has not yet graduated. 1 In fact, public high school in Utah is mandatory until the age of 18 with a number of exceptions outlined in the Utah Code. 2


Students without immigration documentation

The Supreme Court has ruled that all children living in the United States have an equal right to a public education through high school. The Court ruled that schools cannot make distinctions based on a student’s nationality or immigration status in the United States. In general, School officials shouldn’t even ask students about their immigration status since it is not relevant to enrolling in school or taking part in academics, athletics or other activities. 3

Federal law also requires that all school districts receiving federal funding provide classes for non-English speaking students to learn English. 4


Students with disabilities

Students with mental, physical, or learning disabilities, who are between the ages of three and 22, and have not graduated from high school with a regular diploma, are entitled to free and appropriate education. A federal law called the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, the IDEA, requires schools to provide special education and related services to students with disabilities so that the students can obtain an education appropriate to their needs and to the extent practicable, participate in mainstream classes alongside their peers without disabilities. 5  Schools are required to develop Individualized Education Plans, IEPs, for students with disabilities, tailored to their particular needs.

If you have disabilities, you also have various additional rights relating to school discipline, services and accommodations. If you are receiving special education services, or if you feel that you need them because of a disability, we encourage you to seek out additional information about your rights by contacting the Department of Education at or by contacting ACLU of Utah.


Students who are pregnant

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, keeps the school doors open for pregnant and parenting students. 6 According to this federal law, any school that receives federal funding cannot exclude or discriminate against students on the basis of pregnancy or marital status or discriminate against a parenting student on the basis of gender. The law requires that the school provide you with an excused medical leave of absence and reinstate you to your previous student status upon your return to school.

Some school districts may operate separate programs for pregnant and parenting teens, but these programs must be voluntary and offer instruction that is comparable to that provided non-pregnant students. That means that you must have the same quality and selection of classes, qualifications for teachers, same availability and quality of textbooks, same quality of classrooms, and be offered the same number of credits for classes as the standard program.

You have a right to stay in school in your regular class while you are pregnant and after you have your baby. You also have the right to participate in all school and extra curricular activities like sports, honors societies, or a drama club. If you feel that you are being treated differently than your classmates because of your pregnancy there are several resources at your disposal. We recommend that you contact The National Women’s Law Center or our offices at ACLU of Utah.

Back to Contents

Go to next chapter