Federal

Los Angeles District, Ed. Dept., Resolve Civil Rights Probe

By Katie Ash — October 18, 2011 3 min read
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Russlyn Ali, right, assistant secretary for civil rights, were on hand at a meeting of the Los Angeles Unified School District's board. The federal Education Department has resolved a civil rights investigation involving services provided to English-language learners and African-American students.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

English-language learners will be promised adequate school system support, and black students will receive more resources, under an agreement announced last week by Los Angeles school officials and the U.S. Department of Education.

The department’s office for civil rights began an investigation in March 2010 into the services the Los Angeles Unified School District provided to ELLs and, after prompting from civil rights groups such as the Los Angeles NAACP, later expanded it to include resource comparability for African-American students.

“We didn’t understand how you could separate the issues involving African-American students,” said Leon Jenkins, the president of the local NAACP chapter. “The African-American student suffers from the same lack of resources and good teachers [as ELLs],” he said.

Under the resolution announced Oct. 11, the district is charged with creating a new master plan for English-learner services that details the goals for students in English-language classes, as well as how the program, to be put into place during the 2012-13 school year, is to be implemented and evaluated.

Curriculum, Language Focus

The new plan is intended to ensure that all students, including English-learners and black and special education students, will have equal access to the core curriculum they need to be on track to graduate, with materials targeted to their level of English proficiency. It also will specifically address the language needs of African-American students, starting in elementary school.

“This resolution is specific to Los Angeles, so it is designed to meet the needs of students [in this district],” said Russlynn H. Ali, the assistant secretary for civil rights at the Education Department, in a conference call from Los Angeles with reporters. The resolution is intended to be “a model for the country and will have great impact that exceeds the borders of Los Angeles,” she said.

Jane Hannaway, a vice president and the director of the National Center for Analysis of Longitudnal Data in Education Research at the Washington-based American Institutes of Research, added, “Without a doubt, we have terrible performance gaps among ethnic and racial groups in the U.S.”

But the Los Angeles district has the advantage of strong leadership when it comes to equity in schools, she said.

“What I can say about L.A. is they have a superintendent who is not one to shy away from tough problems, so I think it will be instructive for a lot of districts to observe how [Superintendent] John Deasy deals with this,” said Ms. Hannaway.

Comprehensive Plan

Terms of the agreement require that the Los Angeles district put together a comprehensive, districtwide plan to assuage disproportionate participation of African-American and Hispanic students in the district’s gifted and talented education, or GATE, program. Schools that currently fall into that category are expected to implement steps immediately to identify students eligible for GATE by providing more professional development to teachers and administrators to help them identify such students. They also must set up informational meetings for parents and guardians of students in the affected schools.

Funding is being set aside for more technology and library resources to achieve comparability among all schools. The district also will re-evaluate its disciplinary policies and procedures in light of what the Education Department said is a disproportionate number of African-American students disciplined.

‘Stay Diligent’

The NAACP’s Mr. Jenkins said his group is pleased with the terms of the resolution, but noted that it is even more important to make sure it is implemented as outlined.

“We have to stay diligent,” he said. “The parents and community groups have to do their due diligence and stay on the U.S. Department of Education in terms of funding.”

After the final plan is approved by the LAUSD and the civil rights office, the district will be responsible for providing professional development to help implement it. The OCR will oversee the monitoring of the resolution.

A version of this article appeared in the October 19, 2011 edition of Education Week as Resolution Announced in Civil Rights Probe Involving L.A. District

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attend to the Whole Child: Non-Academic Factors within MTSS
Learn strategies for proactively identifying and addressing non-academic barriers to student success within an MTSS framework.
Content provided by Renaissance
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum How to Teach Digital & Media Literacy in the Age of AI
Join this free event to dig into crucial questions about how to help students build a foundation of digital literacy.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Opinion The Great Project 2025 Freakout
There's nothing especially scary in the Heritage Foundation's education agenda—nor is it a reliable gauge of another Trump administration.
6 min read
Man lurking behind the American flag, suspicion concept.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Federal Data Is the Federal Agency That Tracks School Data Losing Steam?
A new study of U.S. data agencies finds serious capacity problems at the National Center for Education Statistics.
3 min read
Illustration of data bar charts and line graphs superimposed over a school crossing sign.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and iStock/Getty images
Federal Trump's VP Pick: What We Know About JD Vance's Record on Education
Two days after a gunman tried to assassinate him, former President Donald Trump announced Ohio Sen. JD Vance as his running mate.
4 min read
Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, right, points toward Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump at a campaign rally, March 16, 2024, in Vandalia, Ohio.
Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, right, points toward Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump at a campaign rally, March 16, 2024, in Vandalia, Ohio. Trump on July 15 announced the first-term Ohio senator as his running mate.
Jeff Dean/AP
Federal In Wake of Trump Assassination Attempt, Biden Calls for Unity and Investigation Gets Underway
President Biden condemns violence, the FBI searches for a motive, and Trump heads to RNC.
3 min read
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is surrounded by U.S. Secret Service agents at a campaign rally, Saturday, July 13, 2024, in Butler, Pa.
Former President Donald Trump is surrounded by U.S. Secret Service agents after being struck by gunfire at a campaign rally, Saturday, July 13, 2024, in Butler, Pa. The day after the attempted assasination of the Republican nominee for president, Trump arrived in Milwaukee ahead of the start of the Republican National Convention and President Joe Biden gave a prime-time address, saying "politics must never be a literal battlefied. God forbid, a killing field."
Evan Vucci/AP