LOS ANGELES — The ACLU Foundation of Southern California (ACLU SoCal) is proud to announce that Jessica Price has been recognized by California Lawyer magazine for her outstanding work to bring justice to 20,000 English Learner (EL) students.
Price was cited for her successful litigation of DJ v. State of California, in which a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled that California’s Department of Education and other state education officials had ignored their obligations to EL students by refusing to take any action in response to admissions by hundreds of school districts that they were denying EL students essential language instruction, as required by law.
“I am honored to help ensure that all students in California receive the quality education that they deserve and that is promised to them under our state constitution,” said Price. “But the true champions in this case are the families and school staff who shed light on the need for the state to remedy the denial of basic language instruction for children.”
In April 2013, ACLU SoCal filed a lawsuit on behalf of six students, their parents and a former teacher after an ACLU of California report found widespread failure of schools across the state to implement language instruction for students who do not speak English as a first language. The report, compiled in conjunction with Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles, found that one in four school districts serving EL students did not offer the language support required by state and federal law.
The August 2013 ruling won by Price and her fellow attorneys, including Mark Rosenbaum, formerly of ACLU SoCal, and Robert D. Crockett, formerly of Latham & Watkins, affirmed the state’s obligation to provide essential language instruction to these underserved students.
“We are immensely proud of Jessica,” said Hector Villagra, executive director of ACLU SoCal. “She showed great skill and determination in identifying and building a case that will have significant impact on the educational opportunities that thousands of English language learners receive.”
The 2015 California Lawyer Attorneys of the Year (CLAY) awards honorees come from 17 areas of practice and include prosecutors, defense attorneys, public-interest lawyers, intellectual property attorneys and appellate experts who work in a variety of settings from solo practices to international firms to non-profit organizations.
Price is the seventh ACLU SoCal attorney to receive a CLAY award in recent years. The 2015 CLAY Award recipients will be featured in the March 2015 issue of California Lawyer.
“The efforts of Jessica and the entire legal team were critical because it emphasizes and holds the state and state education officials accountable for their ultimate responsibility for ensuring all children have equal access to educational opportunities,” said David Sapp, director of education advocacy for the ACLU of California.
Learn more about D.J. v. State of California:
Ruling: https://www.aclusocal.org/cases/dj/ruling Case timeline: https://www.aclusocal.org/englishlearners/
Media contact: Sandra Hernandez, 213-977-5247, shernandez@aclusocal.org