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Press Release

Justice Department Seeks Court Approval of Plan to Provide Comprehensive Services to ELL Students in Denver Public Schools

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Department of Justice, the Congress of Hispanic Educators (CHE) and the Denver Public Schools (DPS) have jointly requested court approval of a consent decree that requires that the more than 20,000 English Language Learner (ELL) students enrolled in DPS receive the services they need to overcome language barriers and meaningfully participate in school. The proposed consent decree will benefit all ELLs and LEP parents in the district, including not only the 87 percent of ELL students who are native Spanish speakers, but those who speak one of the 137 other languages spoken in the district as well.


The proposed consent decree requires the district to implement comprehensive measures to ensure that its ELL students are properly identified, served, exited from services upon demonstrating proficiency in English and monitored after they exit. The proposed consent decree also requires translation and interpretation services for thousands of Limited English Proficient parents and tailored services for ELL students who face unique challenges, including refugee students and students with disabilities. In addition, ELL students must have access to English language acquisition services in the district’s 30 charter schools. DPS is required to evaluate the effect of the required changes on student achievement over time through disaggregated data analyses and robust reporting requirements.


If approved, the consent decree would replace a 1999 court order and provide a detailed roadmap for the district to comply with its obligations under the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 within a three-year period. The Equal Educational Opportunities Act requires state and local education agencies to take appropriate action to overcome language barriers that impede students’ equal participation in instructional programs, and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars discrimination on the basis of race and national origin by state education agencies and schools that receive federal funds.

“We recognize the efforts of the Denver Public Schools to develop and implement a comprehensive and multifaceted plan to serve the thousands of DPS students who are not proficient in English,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.  “The Congress of Hispanic Educators and the department have advocated relief to ensure that DPS meets the requirements of federal law, establishes a culture of high expectations and provides a solid foundation for the future success of all students.”   

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 .

Updated August 10, 2015

Press Release Number: 12-1184