Federal and State Laws/Cases regarding ELL

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its regulations at 34 CFR Part 100 2) -"No person in the U.S. shall, on the ground of race, color, national origin be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

May 25, 1970, Memorandum, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare -This memorandum interpreted the Civil Rights Act. It delineates the responsibility of school districts in providing equal education opportunity to national origin minority group students whose English language proficiency is limited. The following quotes discuss some major areas of concern with respect to compliance with Title VI and have the force of Law:

"Where inability to speak and understand the English language exclude national origin minority group children from effective participation in the educational program offered by a school district, the district must take affirmative steps to rectify the language deficiency in order to open its instructional program to these students."

"School districts have the responsibility to adequately notify national origin minority group parents of school activities which are called to the attention of other parents. Such notice, in order to be adequate, may have to be provided in a language other than English."

"School districts must not assign national origin minority group students to classes for the mentally retarded on the basis of criteria which essentially measure or evaluate English language skills; nor may school districts deny national origin minority group children access to college preparation courses on a basis directly related to the failure of the school system to inculcate English language skills."

1974 - Equal Educational Opportunities Act (EEOA) -"No state shall deny equal educational opportunity to an individual on account of his or her race, color, sex or national origin, by ... the failure of an educational agency to take appropriate action to overcome language barriers that impede equal participation by its students in its instructional programs."

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 USC 12131-12161 -Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities on the basis of disability in all programs, activities, and services of public entities. Public entities include state and local governments and their departments and agencies. Title II applies to all activities, services and programs of a public entity.

Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act (IDEIA) of 2004 - The purpose of IDEA 2004 is to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living; to ensure that the rights of children with disabilities and their parents are protected; to assess and ensure the effectiveness of efforts to educate children with disabilities.

Lau v. Nichols The decision stated that providing students the same desks, books, teachers and curriculum did not ensure that they had equal educational opportunity, particularly if the students did not speak English. If English is the mainstream language of instruction, then measures have to be taken to ensure that instruction is adapted to address those children's linguistic characteristics (Lau v. Nichols, 414 U.S. 563, 94 S. Ct. 786, 1974).

Castaneda v Pickard, 648 F2d 989(5th Cir 1981), the 5th Circuit set out a widely adopted three-part test to determine whether districts have taken “appropriate action” to remedy the language deficiencies of their ELLs: (1) is the school “pursuing a program informed by an educational theory recognized as sound by some experts in the field, or at least, deemed a legitimate experimental strategy”; (2) are the programs and practices actually used by the school “reasonably calculated to implement effectively the educational theory adopted by the school”; and (3) does the program “produce results indicating that the language barriers confronting students are actually being overcome”. Congress intended that schools make a “genuine and good faith effort, consistent with local circumstances and resources, to remedy the language deficiencies of their students,”

Plyer vs. Doe (1982) The United States Supreme Court stated that school systems must enroll and educate children residing in their district even if their parents do not possess legal residency documents.

Further information about federal and state laws regarding ELL students can be found at: http://www.doe.in.gov/elme

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