Feds Start Civil Rights Review of Boston’s ELL Programs

By Mary Ann Zehr — March 29, 2010 1 min read
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First Los Angeles and now Boston. The federal government has started a civil rights review of programs for English-language learners in Boston, according to an article published in the Boston Globe over the weekend. An editorial in the same newspaper backs the review. The investigation in Boston follows a similar review of ELL programs in Los Angeles schools launched earlier this month. A story published in the Contra Costa Times today says that African-American leaders in the L.A. area are calling for the treatment of black students to be included in the probe as well.

The U.S. Department of Education’s office for civil rights is aware that a state audit of Boston’s programs for ELLs conducted two years ago found serious problems, according to the Globe article. The U.S. Department of Justice began investigating some of the alleged problems last spring.

In the Globe article, Russlynn Ali, the Education Department’s assistant secretary for civil rights, says the department has never withheld federal money for civil rights violations.

Recently, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced stepped-up enforcement of civil rights laws in schools. We may learn more from the results of reviews in Los Angeles and Boston if stepped-up enforcement means a greater willingness to dish out penalties.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.