School districts baffled about why they’re on English learners monitoring list
Days after California and federal officials agreed to improve service to English learners, most of the school districts on the list the state agreed to monitor more closely said they were surprised they were on it.
The settlement between the U.S. Department of Justice and the California Department of Education compels the state to, among other things, respond in a "timely and effective manner" to information that schools are not serving English learners, improve online monitoring technology, and include charter schools in English learner reviews.
The settlement also targets for state monitoring four school districts, one county office of education, and a high school.
“It doesn’t really make sense to me,” said Anita Alfonso, head of English learner services at the Menifee Union School District in Riverside, one of those on the list.
“We feel like we’re doing a lot right now,” she said, including purchasing new curriculum material for English learners, training teachers, and helping the parents of English learners.
“We were not aware of this at all,” said Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District spokeswoman Gail Pinsker. Her district also made the list. “We’re checking with different agencies to learn about what exactly this means and what the requirements are for moving forward under this [California Department of Education] settlement.”
The superintendents of Burbank Unified and San Gabriel Unified were also puzzled their districts made it on the list and said they received no notification from state or federal officials.
Burbank Unified officials provided numbers to KPCC detailing English learners who didn’t receive services in the time period in question. There were about 100 students or fewer in each of those years. The school district’s superintendent believes the issue had to do with incorrect coding of English learners in the district’s data system.
English learner advocates say federal law compels school districts to provide services to every English learner.
“So even if there are not that many students being deprived of services, the fact that the problem persists over a number of years suggests that there is something very systemic about the problem in those districts,” said Nicole Ochi, a lawyer with the Audio: School districts baffled about why they’re on English learners monitoring list | 89.3 KPCC: