The Colton Joint Unified School District will revamp its English language learners program to settle an investigation brought by the Department of Justice 12 years ago. The DOJ alleged that the district denied English learner students the instruction they needed to become fluent in English, and the support to fully participate in school.
The investigation never resulted in a lawsuit, and the settlement agreement is stated to avoid a suit.
“This investigation started in 2010, and this agreement has been a long time coming. We are happy to reach this agreement and to be able to continue our efforts to improve our educational program for all students,” wrote Katie Orloff, Colton Joint Unified School District’s communications director.
The DOJ claimed the school district violated the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974, which requires school districts to take “appropriate action to overcome language barriers that impede equal participation by its students in its instructional programs.”
“Students learning English have a right to receive an education equal to that of their classmates,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in a press release. “School districts have an obligation to overcome language barriers and support English learners in participating fully in their schools’ academic programs. The Civil Rights Division is committed to ensuring that school districts across the nation comply with federal law and provide all students equal access to a quality education.”
The settlement repeats the DOJ’s claims: that the district failed to provide adequate English-language development skills to students, that the district did not provide adequate training to to its English-learner program staff, that the district did not conduct English-language evaluations in the students’ native languages, that the screening test to identify students for the gifted and talented program denied access to English-language learners and that the district did not monitor its English-language programs for effectiveness.
The school district will agree to 39 requirements under the agreement.
The school district will:
- Provide English learning students with at least one daily period of designated English-language development
- Make sure their English-language development teachers have certifications up to California’s standards
- Create a professional training plan for its English-language development teachers that includes five hours of annual training on teaching English and five hours of in-classroom support on using the tactics taught
- Create a feedback tool with the federal government’s help to monitor a teacher’s use of English teaching strategies
- Apply all provisions of the agreement to special-education students
- Provide information on the gifted and talented program in both Spanish and English
- Create policies that ensure that English learners have the same opportunity to participate in the gifted and talented program as other students
- Monitor the English-learning services through a quarterly data review
- Provide specific annual compliance reports to the federal government
Read the agreement here.