CA Courts Take Another Step Toward Meaningful Access for LEP Litigants in Civil Proceedings:

On September 28, 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a statute into law that, among other things, removes the requirement to charge limited English proficient (LEP) litigants for interpreter costs in civil proceedings, sets forth an intention to provide interpreters consistent with federal legal requirements, and clarifies that state courts may provide interpreters free of charge regardless of the income of the parties. This statute is major step forward to resolving the Federal Coordination and Compliance Section (FCS) and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Central District of California (USAO) investigation of a complaint, filed by the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, alleging a failure to provide LEP individuals with meaningful access in civil proceedings and court operations. The California state court system has made a commitment to resolve the complaint voluntarily and FCS and USAO are negotiating the terms of that compliance. As part of the process to define the terms of voluntary resolution, FCS and USAO have sought input from court officials and staff, legal practitioners, advocates, and other stakeholders. The California state court system has also sought feedback from stakeholders on its draft language access plan through several public hearings, stakeholder meetings, and through a formal public comment process held July 31-September 29, 2014. The draft plan identifies the steps the court system will take to provide free language services to LEP individuals in all civil proceedings and court operations.


Information about the language access plan process: http://go.usa.gov/wgkz

Final text of AB1657 as enacted: http://go.usa.gov/wg8C



Department of Education Issues Guidance Urging Schools to Ensure Equity of Services and Facilities Pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964:

On October 1, 2014, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (ED-OCR) issued guidance urging schools to monitor policies and facilities to ensure that they are distributed to students in compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The guidance notes that while students need not have identical resources, they must have equal access to comparable programs, materials and facilities under Title VI. Data shows that African American students are four times more likely to attend schools where their teachers do not meet all the requirements for state teaching certifications and that schools with higher concentrations of minorities are more likely to have temporary classrooms in portable buildings. ED-OCR advises that schools collect data on course offerings; gifted and preschool programs; athletics; teacher credentials; and access to librarians, psychologists and guidance counselors. Where Title VI disparities are found, schools should "take prompt and effective steps to eliminate any unjustified inequities." Under the guidance, schools are asked to involve law enforcement only as a last resort in school discipline, and reduce suspensions and expulsions, which tend to disproportionately affect minority students.


Letter: http://go.usa.gov/wggh

Guidance: http://go.usa.gov/wg2W

En Español: http://go.usa.gov/wg2F


Department of Education Releases Guidance on Charter Schools’ Obligations under Civil Rights Laws:

The Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Education released guidance on May 14, 2014, concerning the applicability of federal civil rights laws to charter schools. The guidance provides a reminder that charter schools are subject to the same federal civil rights obligations as all other public schools, and highlights some of the legal requirements related to admissions, student discipline, students with disabilities, and English language learners.


Letter available in English and Spanish: http://go.usa.gov/wgT3



Departments of Education and Justice Release Guidance on Non-Discrimination in Enrollment Procedures on the Basis of Immigration Status: 

The Department of Education and the Department of Justice released guidance on May 8, 2014, regarding schools' enrollment procedures and the obligation to enroll all residents of school age regardless of their race, color, national origin, immigration, or citizenship status. 


Letter and related materials available in English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese: http://go.usa.gov/wgTT



Departments of Education and Justice Release Letter on Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action Decision:

The Department of Education and the Department of Justice issued a Dear Colleague Letter concerning the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action. The letter provides information about the Schuette decision and reiterates the Departments’ support for the voluntary use of race and ethnicity to achieve diversity in education.


Letter: http://go.usa.gov/wgTm

En Español: http://go.usa.gov/wg2F


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