A blog reader points out that I can add Elgin Area School District to my list of large school systems or states that have come under fire this summer for how they serve English-language learners. This month a federal judge granted class-action status to a racial bias lawsuit filed in February 2005 against Elgin Area School District U-46, which is Illinois’ second-largest school system and is located in a Chicago suburb, according to the Daily Herald. (Click here for the Chicago Tribune‘s coverage.) An article published on Aug. 21 gives details about how, along with making complaints that Hispanics and African-Americans attend crowded schools and are unfairly subjected to busing, the lawsuit claims the 42,000-student Elgin district is not adequately educating English-language learners. The article says that if the allegations in the lawsuit are proven, Hispanic students who have received services for being ELLs in the last four years, or who are entitled to receive such services and didn’t get them, could receive “remedies.” Those remedies could include monetary compensation, according to the article.
One of the complaints in the lawsuit is that some ELLs didn’t receive services at all. That complaint has also surfaced in a federal lawsuit concerning programs in Texas for ELLs and also in an audit of programs for ELLs in Seattle Public Schools.
Let me note that the article refers to English-language learners as “bilingual students” and calls the programs offered to them “bilingual programs.” But, in fact, “bilingual programs” is an overall term used in the article for a variety of services offered to ELLs, including classes where students’ native languages are used for instruction and classes in which students are taught only in English.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.