Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Louisiana District Reaches Agreement Over Civil Rights Complaint

A Louisiana school district accused of discriminating against English language learners has reached a voluntary agreement with the federal government to address the complaint.

The New Orleans Times Picayune reported that the Southern Poverty Law Center initially filed the complaint against Jefferson Parish Public School System in 2012. The complaints charged that school officials were not provided necessary support to ELLs and their families, including translation services.

The SPLC had also alleged that Latino students were bullied for speaking Spanish. They also alleged that families were bullied to provided proof of U.S. citizenship to enroll and graduate from school.

The recent agreement reached with the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice will address several areas. School officials agreed that no student would be denied enrollment if they lacked a Social Security card, or based on immigration status.

They also agreed to convene a bilingual parent advisory committee, provide diversity training to teachers, and to establish translation services for parents. The district will also have to administer a school climate survey at West Jefferson High School.

“We applaud Jefferson Parish for ensuring that all students will have access to their public schools and that all parents, regardless of the language they speak, are equipped with the information necessary for their children to fully participate in and benefit from their educational programs,” said Assistant Secretary Catherine E. Lhamon for the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, in a statement.