Wednesday, September 30, 2015
California Settles English Language Learner Case, Promising to Implement Better Standards and Oversight
California has reached a settlement in DJ v. State of California. Plaintiffs charged that the state Department of Education was failing to carry out its obligations to English Language Learners (ELLs) and the trial court agreed. Under federal law, the Equal Educational Opportunities Act requires states and schools to take affirmative action to help ELLs overcome language barriers and make appropriate educational progress. California's state constitution also establishes education as a fundamental right and requires the state "to intervene when the educational opportunity provided to some students falls below "prevailing statewide standards. . . The failure to provide appropriate services to EL students denies them equal educational opportunity." DJ v. State of California, BS 142775 (Sept. 14, 2015).
Applying those standards, last fall, the trial court found that the Department had failed "to take appropriate action in response to reports from districts that EL students have not received instructional services. Petitioners are also entitled to an injunction requiring Respondents to establish procedures that effectively ensure all EL students receive required EL instructional services."
The state has now agreed to put specific remedies in place to address these failures. The state promised to collect and monitor more accurate data on ELLs, make that data publicly available, establish standards that increase the likelihood of triggering onsite evaluations of ELL programs, seek additional funding for new staff to oversee the program, and conduct a compliance review in Compton Unified School District.