Latino Community Forum: Latino parents uniting and winning a future worth fighting for
Submitted by Ramón Pérez
On Monday, October 31st, 2011, members of the Latino Community Forum (LCF) met with Dr. Jerome Pecko, Superintendent of Toledo Public Schools, Gayle Schaber, Director of English as a Second Language, and José Luna, the TPS Hispanic Outreach Coordinator.
The meeting was called to inform TPS officials of their failure to comply with federal law requirements regarding Limited English Proficient (LEP) Title III funding. TPS receives federal funding under Title III annually to provide additional services to ensure the academic success of Limited English students.
Prior to this meeting the Latino Community Forum held community meetings and completed various forms of community outreach, including door-to-door canvassing. This outreach found that ‘quality of education’ was the number one concern of the Forum’s constituents.
To address this concern, members participated in educational-rights trainings, particularly addressing the rights of parents and children regarding TPS’s Limited English Proficient program and funding requirements as described by Title III.
The training revealed that many parents were not properly communicated with regarding their students’ enrollment, progress, and experiences in LEP classes. To further investigate the issue, parents obtained copies of their children’s academic files, which further revealed the lack of required documents. These issues were addressed with TPS officials at the October 31st meeting.
As a result of this meeting, Mrs. Schaber committed that by February 2012, TPS would implement proper communication with parents of Limited English Proficient students, including descriptions of LEP academic programs, policies for enrolling students into LEP classes, ways to give feedback regarding LEP policies and procedures, and how to help their children meet academic content standards.
Mrs. Schaber also stated that by February 2012, she would organize a presentation by a current ESL teacher that would inform parents the significance of TPS’s ESL academic instruction models. Her commitment to comply with Title III requirements was well received by members of the Latino Community Forum.
An active parent from the Forum stated: “As a mother and as a member of LCF, I hope that Toledo Public Schools listens to our concerns related to our children’s education and wellness. We hope TPS will follow the agreements established in our meeting on October 31st at the Sofia Quintero Art and Cultural Center.”
The Director of ESL also mentioned having already implemented trainings for the secretaries of TPS schools regarding how to properly assist parents who are enrolling their children into ESL classes. Unfortunately feedback from parents during the meeting revealed that some secretaries are still not helping parents through the ESL process. Mrs. Schaber mentioned re-addressing the issue at an upcoming secretary training.
Moving forward, the committee is hopeful that ESL Director Gayle Schaber will lead and ensure system-wide and complete compliance with Title III LEP requirements, including programming, parental notifications, and parental involvement, and that the TPS officials will meet the needs of all LEP families district-wide, not just for those in attendance.
Members of the Latino Community Forum