LOS ANGELES – The Justice Department announced today it has secured a settlement agreement with the San Bernardino City Unified School District to resolve the department’s investigation into the district’s educational program for English learners.
The department investigation, conducted jointly by the United States Attorney’s Office and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, concluded that the district was not providing English learners with the necessary services and supports to become fluent in English, or to meaningfully participate in core content classes like math, science or social studies.
The district has agreed to improve its services so that English learners have access to the same crucial educational opportunities as their peers.
“Federal laws protect the rights of English learners to fully participate in the classroom,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. “Today’s agreement is an important step in ensuring that students learning English receive the programming they need to progress towards fluency and to participate in school on an equal basis with their peers. This agreement will improve the services and support offered to English learners.”
“Education is a fundamental part of achieving the American dream, but for many students learning English across the country, their school districts do not provide the services and support they need,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division will fight to hold districts to their obligations under federal law to provide all their students, regardless of language ability, with a full and meaningful education.”
The department’s investigation identified failures to ensure that all teachers providing English language instruction were qualified. In addition, teachers of core subjects like math, science and social studies were often not trained and qualified to provide the supports that English learner students need to learn grade-level material, among other concerns.
Under the settlement, the district will provide language instruction to English learners to help them develop fluency in English, and it will ensure that its teachers are trained and certified to provide that instruction. The district will also provide training to teachers of core classes – such as math, science and social studies – on the use of tools that help English learners understand the content of those courses. And the district will effectively monitor student progress and identify whether students need additional services or supports to guarantee that English learners have access to gifted and talented programs and advanced courses, including Advanced Placement classes. The department will monitor the district’s compliance with the settlement for three years.
Assistant United States Attorney Katherine Hikida of the Civil Division’s Civil Rights Section and attorneys from the Educational Opportunities Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division handled this matter.
Information about the Civil Division’s Civil Rights Section is available on its website at https://www.justice.gov/usao-cdca/civil-division/civil-rights. Individuals in the seven counties of the Central District of California may report possible civil rights violations to the United States Attorney’s Office by calling (213) 894-2879 or emailing USACAC.CV-CivilRights@usdoj.gov.