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California schools neglect non-English-speaking students: ACLU

January 23, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has a strong message to California school systems: Start providing English language classes to foreign-speaking students or face a firestorm of lawsuits.

The ACLU says tens of thousands of students are not getting the lessons they're entitled to.

The ACLU says more than 20,000 non-English-speaking students aren't getting the services they need in school to learn enough English. It blames the state.

"An 'F' for effort. An 'F' for caring. An 'F' for accomplishment," said Mark Rosenbaum, chief counsel of the ACLU of Southern California.

The ACLU says the Los Angeles Unified School District has the most students in the state not receiving English help, at more than 4,000. Compton Unified School District has nearly 1,700; followed by William S. Hart Union High School District with 1,142; and Oxnard School District with 588.

"I have spoken to high school students who thought they were no longer English learners because the school simply stopped providing them with those services," said Jessica Price, an ACLU staff attorney. "These are cases involving no services."

The California Dept. of Education issued a statement that says in part: "California has made dramatic progress in seeing that all English learners receive appropriate instruction and services," wrote Dr. Karen Cadiero-Kaplan, director of the English Learner Support Division. "School districts ... currently report that more than 98 percent of the state's 1.4 million English learners are receiving services."

The ACLU says it has put the state on notice: If the organization doesn't see any changes in the next 30 days to resolve these issues, it's ready to go to court.


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