Today, a federal court in Denver approved a comprehensive consent decree between the Department of Justice, the Congress of Hispanic Educators (CHE), and the Denver Public Schools (DPS) that requires DPS to provide language services to the more than 28,000 English Language Learner (ELL) students enrolled in the district’s 170 schools. The consent decree, which replaces a 1999 court order, is the product of compliance monitoring by the department and the CHE, and DPS’s recognition that the 1999 order no longer reflected the district’s own best practices for serving ELL students.
The consent decree requires the district to implement comprehensive measures to ensure that ELLs have equal opportunities to succeed academically in district educational programs, starting with the proper identification of ELL students when they enter DPS. Among other things, the consent decree requires DPS to: provide language acquisition services to ELL students in district schools, including charter schools, until they are proficient in English and to monitor ELL students after they exit services to ensure they are participating meaningfully and equally in mainstream classes; to make translation and interpretation services available for thousands of Limited English Proficient parents who speak more than 130 different languages – thus ensuring that all parents have access to essential information about their children’s education; to provide Pre-K language services at each school where DPS offers early childhood education; and to make appropriate language services available for ELL students who face unique challenges, including refugee students and students with disabilities.
“Today, the Denver Public Schools took a big step forward toward promoting the success of every student from the moment the child enters the district. Faithful implementation of this decree will ensure that ELL students, like all district students, have access to qualified teachers, grade-appropriate curriculum, and dedicated resources to meet their particular learning needs,” said Jocelyn Samuels, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “We commend DPS for joining with the Congress of Hispanic Educators and the United States to protect the rights of thousands of ELL students in Denver.”
The enforcement of the Equal Educational Opportunities Act and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are top priorities 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 .