English Learning Probe Settled by Feds, Boston Schools

USA Today, October 1, 2010

Federal officials and the Boston Public Schools have reached an agreement over allegations that the school district violated federal law by not providing English instruction to students with a limited grasp of the language, the U.S. Justice Department announced Friday.

Under the agreement, Boston Public Schools agreed to assess the English proficiency of an estimated 7,000 students who were not previously tested in how well they understand, speak, read and write English. The district also agreed to provide the students with extra English language help during other classes including math, social studies and science.

In addition, the Boston Public Schools must monitor the academic performance of current and former English language learners and provide English language learner services at all schools.

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In a statement Friday, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the federal Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights said that since 2003, Boston Public Schools had failed to properly identify and adequately serve thousands of English language learners under federal law.

Officials said the settlement came after federal authorities examined the district’s policies and visited schools.

“All students who are not proficient in English are entitled to language acquisition services to overcome language barriers that impede their equal and meaningful participation in educational programs,” said Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.

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