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Monday, April 23, 2012

Departments of Justice and Education Reach Settlement with Boston Public Schools to Ensure Equal Opportunites for ELL Students

The Department of Justice and the Department of Education reached agreement with the Boston Public Schools (the district) and its superintendent today to ensure that English Language Learner (ELL) students in Boston receive the services and supports they need to overcome language barriers, as required by the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  This agreement replaces an interim settlement agreement entered on Oct. 1, 2010, which required the district to implement short-term remedies to ensure that thousands of students improperly excluded from the district’s ELL programs were promptly assessed and provided services. 


The agreement reached today governs the district’s transition from these short-term remedies to longer-term policies and programs that expand the coverage of Boston’s ELL program and are designed to ensure that the services provided to ELL students are of high quality, delivered by qualified teachers and tailored to the specific needs of each individual student. The agreement requires the district to continue its efforts to accurately identify and place ELL students, and further ensures that ELL students, who face unique challenges, including students with interrupted former education and students with disabilities, receive assessments and services that are specially designed to address and ameliorate those challenges. The agreement also affords ELL students greater access to the higher-level learning opportunities in the district. To ensure these programmatic changes are effective, the agreement further requires the district to evaluate the effect of these changes on student achievement over time through robust, disaggregated data analyses.


“We applaud the Boston Public Schools for working collaboratively with the United States to develop a comprehensive plan to effectively serve all students who are not proficient in English,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.  “We believe this plan can guide other school districts seeking to ensure that its English Language Learner programs not only meet the requirements of federal law, but also empower English Language Learner students to strive for success in their education and lives.”   


“A key to success is access to a high quality education and today, the Boston Public Schools is promising to provide limited English proficient students an equal opportunity for success by giving them access to programs and services tailored to meet their needs, including access to accelerated programs,” said Russlynn Ali, Assistant Secretary for the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Education. “The Department of Education is committed to working with the Boston School Committee as it implements this comprehensive plan.”


“ Our education system must provide our children with opportunities to develop into productive citizens regardless of their proficiency in English.  When English language learners lack properly trained teachers, those opportunities are curtailed,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz of the District of Massachusetts.  “We share the goal of continued improvement to Massachusetts schools and look forward to the progress of this collaborative effort.”


The enforcement of the Equal Educational Opportunities Act and Title VI 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 . Enforcement of Title VI is also a top priority of Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. Additional information about the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is available on its website at www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/index.html .

Press Release Number: 
Updated August 10, 2015