The ACLU California and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) will seek a Temporary Restraining Order from U.S. District Court Judge Lourdes Baird this afternoon at a 2:00 p.m. hearing to stop the state's largest school district from implementing Prop. 227, passed by voters June 3, that would abolish bilingual education programs in public schools throughout California. Plaintiffs filed the federal class action lawsuit [Diana Doe vs LAUSD - 98-6154 LGB (RZx)] yesterday.

More than half of Los Angeles Unified School Districts's 600,000 students currently participate in some form of bilingual education. Plaintiffs say that implementation of the measure will seriously disrupt their academic progress and jeopardize their access to an equal education.

Plaintiffs are making an as-applied challenge claiming that Prop. 227 violates the Equal Educational Opportunities Act that requires schools to serve the specific needs of Limited English Proficient (LEP) students, and that the measure also violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits discrimination based on national origin in any program receiving federal funds.

In papers submitted to the court, plaintiffs say that Los Angeles Unified School District's proposed Implementation Plan for Proposition 227 "cannot provide an adequate program of instruction for those multi-track schools scheduled to commence their term on August 3, 1998, or any time prior to adequate teacher training and curriculum development."

Plaintiffs charge that the district has not taken adequate steps to train teachers, develop effective curriculum, prepare students for English immersion or in an significant way ensure that any new program or policy will not harm the educational progress of LEP students.

ACLU staff attorney Rocio Cordoba said the measure will harm LEP students. "Prop 227 is a sweeping, unprecedented and educationally unsound policy that would force LAUSD and school districts state-wide to abandon local control and oversight over the best ways to serve the needs of their students. We cannot allow political whim or prejudice to destroy the academic progress of our children, particularly those most vulnerable. We are optimistic that the court will recognize the folly of destroying these programs because of political expediency."