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The Equal Educational Opportunities Act in Action

October 12, 2010
The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division has reached a settlement agreement with the Prince William County School Board that will improve services for English language learners (ELLs) at the Fred Lynn Middle School in Woodbridge, Virginia. With the cooperation of the Prince William County School District, the Division conducted an extensive examination of the Fred Lynn Middle School’s ELL program under the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974. The Equal Educational Opportunities Act requires school districts to take action to overcome students' language barriers that impede equal participation in educational programs. The protections afforded by the Act ensure that all students, regardless of whether they are proficient in English, can access a quality education that will prepare them for a successful future. While examining Fred Lynn Middle School’s ELL program, the Division came across a number of issues including - insufficient ELL services, teacher qualifications, inadequate ELL materials, and a lack of effective monitoring of current and exited ELLs to assess their progress over time. The three-year settlement agreement reached with the Prince William County School District ensures that the issues identified are addressed beginning in the 2010-11 school year. Under the Settlement Agreement, the District agreed to:
  • Provide the middle school's ELL students with adequate English as a Second Language and sheltered content instruction;
  • Adequately train teachers, teacher aides, and reading specialists to serve the ELL population; Develop fully and assess the school’s Reading Strategies course;
  • Conduct a complete review of instructional materials for ELLs and provide adequate materials for ELLs; Ensure that dually identified special education ELLs receive appropriate dual services; and
  • Implement a system for monitoring the academic performance of current and recently exited ELLs, and conduct a longitudinal study of current and former ELL students to evaluate whether the ELL program is overcoming ELLs’ language barriers in a reasonable period of time.
We applaud the District’s decision to enter into this important agreement and to work diligently toward overcoming the language barriers of its ELLs at the Fred Lynn Middle School. We will continue to work cooperatively with the District to monitor compliance with the Agreement.
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Updated April 7, 2017