Feds back English learner lawsuit against state
CREDIT: ACLU OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
Mark Rosenbaum, chief counsel of the ACLU of Southern California, speaks at a press conference in Los Angeles regarding a lawsuit filed in 2010, Reed v. California, challenging teacher layoffs in Los Angeles Unified. The current case involves the unmet needs of English learners.
The state Department of Education and the State Board of Education “have the duty, the data and the tools” to meet their responsibility under federal law, wrote Jocelyn Samuels, Acting Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice, wrote in a brief for the case filed last week. “California’s (English learner) students cannot afford to wait any longer.”
The ACLU claims the state has done nothing to force school districts to provide appropriate services for the approximately 20,000 English learners who, according to a 2010-11 survey of school districts, are receiving no services. Those services include materials in the student’s primary language, parallel instruction for parts of the day taught by bilingual teachers, or a specialized teaching approach called Specially Designed Academic Instruction In English, used for teaching academic content in science or social studies.
The 20,000 students comprise less than 2 percent of the state’s 1.4 million English learners, but those numbers are self-reported by districts and likely represent “the tip of the iceberg,” ACLU Chief Counsel Mark Rosenbaum said.
The ACLU says the state is violating the federal Equal Education Opportunities Act, which requires the state to meet the language needs of all English learners, as well as the state Constitutional guarantee that all students are equally entitled to an opportunity for an education. The state education department and the state board “have washed their hands of ensuring district compliance, even though the students who have been denied service are disproportionately ethnic minorities and many from low income families lacking the resources and opportunities to otherwise become fluent” in English, the suit says.
The 20,000 students comprise less than 2 percent of the state’s 1.4 million English learners, but those numbers are self-reported by districts and likely represent “the tip of the iceberg” of students not getting help, ACLU Chief Counsel Mark Rosenbaum said.
The 2011 survey found that the students were in about a quarter of the state’s 1,000 districts. The biggest violators Feds back English learner lawsuit against state | EdSource: