The U.S. Departments of Education and Justice on Wednesday issued guidance to states, school districts, and schools to ensure that English Learner (EL) students “can participate meaningfully and equally in educational programs and services.”
The equal participation of EL students, who comprise 9 percent of all public school students, is ensured under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974.
“The diversity of this nation is one of its greatest attributes,” said Vanita Gupta, acting assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division at DOJ, in a press statement. “Ensuring English learner students are supported in their education supports all of us. Today’s guidance – 40 years after passage of the landmark Equal Educational Opportunities Act – will help schools meet their legal obligations to ensure all students can succeed.”
The departments also released fact sheets explaining schools’ obligations under federal law to ensure this meaningful and equal participation (in English and other languages) and to communicate with parents in a language they understand (in English and other languages).
Wednesday’s release follows guidance issued on a number of important issues in 2014 by the Department of Education – and sometimes in conjunction with DOJ – including on discriminatory practices in school discipline, sexual assault, use of single-sex classrooms in co-ed public schools, bullying of students with disabilities, equitable distribution of resources to students under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, charter schools’ obligation to comply with civil rights laws, and discrimination of students based on immigration status.