By George Bao Sept. 9, 2016
LOS ANGELES – The U.S. Justice Department reached a comprehensive settlement agreement Friday with the California Department of Education (CDE) and the California State Board of Education that will benefit 1.4 million English Learners (EL) students in the state’s public schools, the U.S. Justice Department announced Friday.
The settlement resolves the department’s May 2015 findings that California’s system for monitoring its public schools’ provision of language services to EL students did not satisfy the state’s obligations under the Equal Educational Opportunities Act (EEOA) of 1974. The state cooperated fully during the review.
The department concluded that the state had failed to respond appropriately to schools’ certified reports showing that over 20,000 EL students were not receiving instructional language services each school year since 2007 to 2008.
“We applaud the state of California for working cooperatively with the Justice Department to ensure that all English Learner students can access the language services they need to learn,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
“We look forward to working with state officials to implement this important agreement and ensure full compliance in the months ahead.”
The agreement addresses many of the legal principles discussed in the United States’ statement of interest filed in July 2014 in a related private EEOA case in state court, D.J. v. State of California.
The state case resulted in a private settlement whose obligations are unaffected by the agreement reached today between the department and the state.
The EEOA requires state and local education agencies to take appropriate action to overcome language barriers that impede students’ equal participation in instructional programs.
Enforcement of the EEOA is a top priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.