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Court: California Violating Rights Of English-Language Learners

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

-By Adolfo Guzman-Lopez

A Los Angeles County judge has ruled that California is violating the constitutional rights of students just learning English by letting some of them fall through the cracks. Adolfo Guzman-Lopez reports.

Superior Court Judge James Chalfant dismissed the argument that California was only leaving about two percent of its large English learner student population behind.

He says leaving any of those kids to struggle without the specialized teaching they needed to understand traditional lessons is wrong.

“I’m ordering you to do something, anything,” he told lawyers defending the California Department of Education.

The ACLU sued the state last year after data showed 20,000 students who speak a foreign language at home, weren’t getting the right instruction.

ACLU lead counsel Mark Rosenbaum was thrilled.

“The court has said that all English learners are entitled to the same dignity, the same rights to learn, the same opportunity to learn as all children," says Rosenbaum.

Chalfant didn’t tell California officials how to comply. That’s up to state officials. They did not say whether they’d appeal the ruling.

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