September 26, 2013

LOS ANGELES - Today, State Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant denied the State of California’s request to dismiss litigation in  D.J. v. State of California.
The lawsuit was filed in April by the ACLU of California (ACLU SoCal) and Asian Americans Advancing Justice on behalf of public school students, parents, and educators against the State of California and state education officials for the State’s failure to respond to reports of the widespread denial of language instruction to tens of thousands of English Learner (EL) students across California, in violation of federal and state law.  It seeks to compel the State to take action in response to admissions by school districts, published on the California Department of Education (CDE) website, that they are failing to provide any EL services to eligible EL students.  Most recently, more than 20,000 students were reportedly denied any instructional services.
In rejecting the State’s argument that these reports do not mean what they say, Judge Chalfant concluded that this is a matter for trial. As detailed in a report released in January 2013, the allegations in the petition are based on data that the State itself publishes on the internet. The State has admitted that it ignores that information as part of its program to oversee school district EL programs.
As part of its unsuccessful argument, the State argued that it had no responsibility to ensure that all EL children receive required instructional services because the United States Department of Justice has initiated a civil rights investigation into the fact that the State ignores these reports from its own districts.  The Department of Justice is using the same data that the ACLU SoCal used in its petition. The State said in their motion, “The court should abstain from adjudicating the controversy alleged in the petition because the federal DOJ is already applying its expertise to investigate the same controversy.” The court rejected this claim.
“To our knowledge, this is the first time anywhere in the nation that a state has asserted that it has no duty to investigate district reports that EL children are not receiving any services to acquire fluency in English,” said Jessica Price, Staff Attorney for the ACLU SoCal. “The assertion is nothing less than a wholesale abdication of California state educational entities’ responsibility to one quarter of the children it serves and the communities where these children live.”
The trial is May 13, 2014.
Click here to view State’s request to dismiss the case: https://www.aclusocal.org/cases/dj/demurrer/
Link to history of the case: http://www.aclusocal.org/englishlearners/
Contact: Vicki Fox or Diana Rubio 213.977.5252

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