WASHINGTON – The Justice Department reached a settlement agreement yesterday with the Mercer County School District in West Virginia. With the district’s cooperation, the department conducted an extensive examination of the district’s English Language Learner (ELL) program to determine whether the district’s ELL students were receiving adequate services as required by the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974.
The three-year settlement agreement will ensure that this rural district takes appropriate action to serve its small but growing and widely dispersed ELL population. The district has agreed to dedicate funding, resources and time through the end of 2014 toward teacher professional development, ELL-specific materials and translator and interpreter services. The district also has agreed to adopt policies to identify incoming ELL students properly through a home language survey and testing, to identify and serve special education ELLs and to monitor the academic performance of current, former and opt-out ELL students.
“Students who are not proficient in English are entitled to language acquisition services that ensure their equal and meaningful participation in educational programs,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that all English Language Learners are provided the services they need to succeed, whether they attend large urban districts or smaller rural districts like the Mercer County School District. We applaud the Mercer County School District’s decision to enter into this important agreement and look forward to continuing to work cooperatively with the district to address the diverse needs of its English Language Learners.”
The enforcement of the Equal Educational Opportunities Act is a top priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt .