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Language Access Won for Limited English Proficient Parents


By Elizabeth Ford


The Cleveland Metropolitan School District entered into a resolution agreement with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights last month regarding the rights of Limited English Proficiency (LEP) parents with children enrolled in the District.  LEP is the limited ability to read, write, speak or understand English. 


Megan L. Sprecher, an attorney with Legal Aid, filed a complaint against the District for not providing appropriate interpreting and translation services to LEP parents, a legal right guaranteed by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.


The agreement, reached on September 14, 2011, states that the District will develop a written plan to adequately notify the parents and provide them with meaningful access to the school’s programs and activities.  Specifically, the District will develop a notification system for parents in a language that they can understand, identify LEP parents within the school, determine what language is best to communicate with them in, and provide a centralized list of LEP parents and the language access services they require. 


The District will also ensure that translators and interpreters are qualified and trained to maintain the confidentiality of the families.  The interpreters furnished will also be trained, in both English and another language, in all the necessary terminology, such as special education terms.  The translators will provide written communications and vital documents to the LEP parents in the language they understand and using appropriate vocabulary and phraseology. 


The District is required to submit this plan to the Office of Civil Rights for review and approval.  They will then monitor the District until it has found that the District is in compliance with its plan and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. 


All other public and charter/community schools are also required to provide language access to parents under Title VI.  This resolution agreement could be applied to other schools and districts in the area.

Copyright © 1989 to 2011 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 12/08/11 19:31:17 -0800.





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