More than 20,000 English-learners in California are not receiving English-language instruction that is required under state and federal law, according to civil rights lawyers who are threatening to sue the state education agency over the matter.
The American Civil Liberties Union of California last week demanded that state officials take action against 251 school districts that it says are not providing English-language-acquisition services to ELLs enrolled in their schools. Those districts include Los Angeles Unified, the state’s largest, with roughly 670,000 students.
The ACLU, along with the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, sent their demands in letters to Tom Torlakson, California’s schools chief, and members of the state board of education. Lawyers for the organizations said they would file a lawsuit if the state education agency did not act within 30 days.
There are roughly 1.4 million English-language learners in California. The ACLU claims that nearly 21,000 of them don’t receive any language services and that many parents are not even aware that their children have been designated as ELLs because they don’t receive information in a language that they understand, in violation of state law.
California education officials said 98 percent of the state’s English-learners receive services, according to a statement.
A version of this article appeared in the January 30, 2013 edition of Education Week as ACLU Claims ELLs Not Served in California