SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California schools agreed to ensure language education for 1.4 million students who are designated as English learners under a federal settlement announced Friday.
The state Department of Education and Board of Education agreed to new training and monitoring procedures to make sure that language services to English Learner-designated students meet requirements of the federal Equal Educational Opportunities Act, according to an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department.
The state, which cooperated with the Justice Department, had denied violations and did not acknowledge any wrongdoing in the settlement.
“The California Department of Education is pleased to sign this agreement reaffirming our commitment to ensuring all English learners in our state receive a high quality education,” spokesman Bill Ainsworth said in a statement.
The Justice Department said last year that California had failed to deal with reports from public schools indicating more than 20,000 of the estimated 1.4 million English Learner students had not received proper instruction in the English language and other subjects. The allegations covered school periods dating back to the 2007-2008 school year.
“We applaud the state of California for working cooperatively with the Justice Department to ensure that all English Learner students can access the language services they need to learn,” Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. “We look forward to working with state officials to implement this important agreement and ensure full compliance in the months ahead.”
The settlement is similar to one the state made in 2014 after a Los Angeles judge ordered it to educate all children who do not speak English. That followed reports showing 20,000 students in a quarter of state public school districts failed to meet that state and federal requirement.
That settlement involved a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of three Spanish-speaking students from Compton.
It alleged that language barriers held students back a grade or led to low test scores.