Parental Notification for ESOL Program Services

WHEREAS, the League of United Latin American Citizens is this nation’s oldest and largest Latino organization, founded in Corpus Christi, Texas on February 17, 1929; and

WHEREAS, LULAC throughout its history has committed itself to the principles that Latinos have equal access to opportunities in employment, education, housing and healthcare; and

WHEREAS, the Florida Council of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is committed to improving the education of English Language Learners (ELLs); and

WHEREAS, LULAC Florida is the first named plaintiff in LULAC v. Florida Board of Education, the source of the Consent Decree, and

WHEREAS, LULAC Florida expects that proposed ESOL rules will meet Floridian's demands for school programs that teach children the English language; reflect the LULAC Consent Decree's dual mandate to provide instruction leading to English language acquisition and academic achievement; comply with the terms of the Consent Decree and its incorporated mandates from civil rights laws and court decisions; provide guidance to school administrators to ensure that ELLs receive a comprehensive and comprehensible program of instruction; and inform policy makers, parents, and other stakeholders in unambiguous terms of the effect of proposed policy changes; and

WHEREAS, proposed rule 6A-6.0902 (3) (d) states that "Parents have the right to have their child immediately removed from a language instruction educational program and to decline to enroll the student in such a program or choose other instructional options, if available [emphasis added]. For purposes of this subparagraph, a "language instruction educational program" means an instruction course in which an ELL is placed for the purpose of developing and attaining English proficiency and which may make instructional use of both English and a child's native language. Nothing herein shall alter the duty of the district to provide highly qualified, duly certified or endorsed ESOL instructors in accordance with Rule 6A-I.0944I, F.A.C., and the Course Code Directory and Instructional Personnel Assignments that is incorporated by reference therein;" and

WHEREAS, the proposed rule's opting-out provision and the definition of an instructional program are excerpts from ESEA Regulation 3302(a)(8); and

WHEREAS, ESEA Regulation 3302(a)(8) applies only to entities using federal funds provided under Title III of ESEA; and

WHEREAS, in 2009-2010, thirty-six per cent of our Local Education Agencies (LEAs) did not receive funds under Title III of ESEA, and,

WHEREAS, confusion will be created by inserting in state board rule applicable to all districts content which is not applicable to thirty-six per cent of our LEAs; and

WHEREAS, the proposed rule includes only part of ESEA Regulation 3302(a)(8), but does not include the rest of the section with timelines and required content for parent information and the requirement for parent training, or guidelines from Items 36 and 37 on parent refusal form the 2010 Boston School District's settlement plan with the federal Department of Education Office for Civil Rights and the Department of Justice, omissions that increases the potential for confusion and misinterpretation among school administrators and the public; and

WHEREAS, the "if available" phrase in the proposed rule suggests that districts have no continuing obligation to ensure appropriate language instruction and access to the curriculum for students whose parents choose to withdraw them from a language instruction educational program; and

WHEREAS, on the contrary, the position of the U.S. Department for Civil Rights is that "When a parent declines participation [in an alternative language program], the district retains a responsibility to ensure that the student has an equal opportunity to have his or her English language and academic needs met;" and

WHEREAS, as written, 6A-6.0902 (3) (d) flouts over thirty-five years of a rich legacy of civil rights decisions, legislation, and regulations by suggesting that school districts' responsibilities to address ELL's language acquisition needs and provide for their access to the curriculum are terminated should parents opt-out and by failing to provide guidelines as to how these responsibilities can be met in cases of parent refusal; and

WHEREAS, while the proposed rule specifies the duty of the district to provide "highly qualified, duly certified or endorsed ESOL instructors in accordance with Rule 6A-l.09441, F .A.C., and the Course Code Directory and Instructional Personnel Assignments that is incorporated by reference therein" as a necessary and commendable first step in ensuring equity for ELLs, however, the proposed rule does not include a schedule for monitoring the opting-out process to ensure that appropriate information and guidance was provided to the parents, or a reminder of the district's legal obligation to abide by civil rights laws, including the LULAC Consent Decree, such as the following statement: "Lack of a student's participation in a Title III program does not relieve a school district of any obligation it may have under state or federal law to continue to provide appropriate services to ELLs;" and

WHEREAS, No ESOL credential requirement and no requirement that the district provide appropriate instructional strategies to meet the needs of ESOL students enrolled in the course is stated in the course descriptions for the vast majority of the Language Arts courses listed in the Course Code Directory, and not all ESOL related courses specify that the district must provide appropriate instructional strategies to meet the needs of ESOL students, yet the proposed rule does not address these issues; and

WHEREAS, the proposed rule does not make clear the effect of parental refusal; the rule could mean parents can only opt-out of Title III funded programs, or of classroom settings composed entirely of ESOL students, or of courses that make instructional use of the home language, or of courses designed to meet the needs of ELLS resulting in the transfer of their children to courses that are not so designed; and

WHEREAS, if the rule is intended to permit parents to opt-out of courses designed to meet the needs of ELLS resulting in the transfer of their children to courses that are not so designed, additions to the rule are needed but not addressed to extend ESOL training requirements stated in the Course Code Directory to instructors for the many courses listed under Language Arts that do not presently include that requirement; and

WHEREAS, the Department of Education has agreed it has the obligation to set standards for school districts and to enforce such standards, as documented in Item 3 of the Settlement Agreement, it is correspondingly obliged to make these responsibilities crystal clear to school districts and the public; and

WHEREAS, the proposed rule raises many more questions and issues than can be effectively addressed at a meeting of the State Board of Education; and

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that LULAC Florida urges the State Board of Education to withhold approval of proposed rule 6A-6.0902 (3) (d)

Approved this 1st day of July 2011.

Margaret Moran
LULAC National President

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