An alleged civil rights complaint filed against Temecula Valley Unified School District’s English Learner programs in its middle schools is being resolved through an agreement with the Office of Civil Rights signed by TVUSD Superintendent Tim Ritter April 7.
The OCR Resolution Agreement will reinstate designated English Learner instruction in the district’s middle schools that were eliminated in 2014 in favor of “Common Core Discovery Replacement” classes. It will also insure better teacher and district communication with the English as a second language students and their non-English speaking parents and will permit EL special education students to participate in the classes.
The complaint, filed April 10, 2014, by the parent of an English language learner at Bella Vista Middle School through Asian-American Advancing Justice in Los Angeles, alleged the middle school had eliminated all English language services during the spring semester. As a result, the complaint alleged, the EL students were not receiving equal access to the educational program in that school required by the California public education law.
It was noted that Bella Vista, rather than working in the its EL students with the “Common Core Discovery Replacement” program, allegedly had eliminated all its EL programs when there still were a number of EL students enrolled at the school. The other middle schools in the district continued to conduct some EL classes under the new program, but had cut back the instruction offerings and not retained some of its more experienced EL teachers for the new program.
With that the OCR, which is an office of the U.S. Department of Education, launched an investigation into the complaint. Before the completion of the investigation and before a “compliance determination” was reached, TVUSD expressed an interest in resolving the complaint. The district submitted the OCR Resolution Agreement April 7 that when implemented is intended to resolve the issues of non-compliance and other concerns, according to the California Department of Education.
The agreement will require the district to create an EL Coordinating Committee made up of an EL expert knowledgeable in the development and implementation of effective ESL programs, a district administrator with EL education experience, two or more certificated teachers with English language development experience, two or more parents of EL students and at least one member of the district English Learner Advisory Committee. The names of those on the committee must be announced by June 30.
The district will continue to revise its master plan to describe a comprehensive program of English language services and instruction that meets Title VI standards. Title VI states that no person in the U.S. shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied of the benefits of or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. It will assure that all schools in the district will be in compliance with the master plan and that input on the plan comes from members of the EL Coordinating Committee. The plan needs to be in place within 30 days after the beginning of school year 2018-2019.
The master plan must insure that all English language learners in the district from the elementary to the high school level be identified and assessed to determine the extent of their needs including those with disabilities. The students with disabilities will receive instruction with non-disabled student to the maximum extent possible with their disability.
The OCR Resolution also requires the district to hire teachers with specialized training and experience in EL education to accommodate the needs of the EL assessed students in the district.
It will also require the district to provide an extensive report on its progress in implementing the resolution. This requirement will involve the district providing a list of all EL students in each of the middle schools with the students name and ID number, home language, most recent California English Language Development Test Score, entry date, name of teacher responsible for providing ELD instruction, class schedule, name of class and their special education status by Sept. 30.
Also, the report will include the English language arts specialists’ job description, a current master schedule for the middle schools, a course outline for the “Discovery Class” at each middle school and a complete description of the EL services provided.
During the school year when the complaint was filed, TVUSD enrolled approximately 30,000 students, of whom 2.745 were English learner students. About 70 percent of the EL students spoke Spanish; the remainder spoke a variety of languages including Filipino, Vietnamese and Arabic. The total district population and the overall proportion of EL students had not changed significantly since that time according to the district and Department of Education reports. In 2013-2014, the district enrolled 6,445 students in its six middle schools of whom 270 students, or 4.2 percent, were EL learners. By 2015-2016, the middle school enrollment had increased to 6,551, and EL enrollment increased to 369 students, or 5.6 percent.
For further reference to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, see OCR Case No. 09-14-1287.