Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Justice Department Ends Agreement with West Virginia School District after Successful Implementation of English Language Programs

The Justice Department announced today that it has terminated its January 2012 settlement agreement with the Mercer County, West Virginia, School District following the district’s successful implementation of programs and services for its English Learner (EL) students, as required by the Equal Educational Opportunities Act (EEOA) of 1974.

After entering into the settlement agreement, the district implemented a process whereby every new student completed a home language survey so that all students with non-English speaking backgrounds were timely identified; had their English proficiency assessed; and if they were not proficient, were provided with individualized English language services and supports.  The district also implemented a new curriculum for the instruction of EL students, improved its teacher training, carefully monitored the academic progress of current and former EL students and enhanced its communications with limited-English proficient families.

As a result of its efforts, the district has successfully integrated dozens of EL students into its student body, enabling them to access the curriculum and develop strong relationships with their teachers and peers.  EL students and their parents have credited the district’s individualized programs and the dedication of EL teachers in furthering the students’ progress.

“We commend the Mercer County School District for successfully implementing the settlement agreement and for showing dedication and care to its English Learner students and their families,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  “We hope other rural districts with growing EL populations will learn from Mercer County’s positive example and significant progress.”

The EEOA requires state and local education agencies to take appropriate action to overcome language barriers that impede students’ equal participation in instructional programs.  Enforcement of the EEOA is a top priority of the Civil Rights Division.  Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt.

Topic(s): 
Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 
16-1019
Updated September 7, 2016