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Legal Resources

A collection of often cross-referenced legal documents, which have defined English learner access rights to educational services. It is supplemented with various federal Web sites related to civil rights and sources.

Attorney General’s Opinion, No. 99-802 External link opens in new window or tab.
A school district may not deny a parental request for an individual waiver from the statutory mandate that all students be instructed in English on the sole ground that the district has no alternative program. This opinion was written on February 25, 2000, by then Attorney General Bill Lockyer. Enter "99-802" into this search page for the opinion text.

Castañeda v. Pickard, [5th Cir., 1981] 648 F.2d 989 External link opens in new window or tab.
This case established a three-part test to evaluate the adequacy of a district's program for the English language learner:

  1. Is the program based on an educational theory recognized as sound by some experts in the field or is it considered by experts as a legitimate experimental strategy?
  2. Are the programs and practices, including resources and personnel, reasonably calculated to implement this theory effectively?
  3. Does the school district evaluate its programs and make adjustments where needed to ensure that language barriers are actually being overcome?

Civil Rights Act of 1964 External link opens in new window or tab.
Congress using its power to regulate interstate commerce, enacted this Act under Title 42, Public Health and Welfare, Chapter 21, Civil Rights, of the United States Code.

Dear Colleague Letter External link opens in new window or tab.
On January 7, 2015, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a joint guidance to assist State Educational Agencies (SEAs), school districts, and all public schools in meeting their legal obligations to ensure that English Learner (EL) students can participate meaningfully and equally in educational programs and services.

Federal Register Search Page External link opens in new window or tab.
The official daily publication for rules, proposed rules, and notices of federal agencies and organizations, as well as executive orders and other presidential documents.

Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution External link opens in new window or tab.
Rights, Guaranteed Privileges, and Immunities of Citizenship; Due Process and Equal Protection
Gomez v. Illinois State Board of Education, [7th Cir., 1987] 811 F.2d 1030
The United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, ruled that State responsibilities include the establishment and enforcement of minimums for implementation of language remediation programs; requirements for the redesignation of students from Limited English Proficient to Fluent English Proficient status.
Idaho Migrant Council v. Board of Education, [9th Cir., 1981] 647 F.2d 69
This case established the legal responsibility of State Departments of Education to monitor and implement programs for Limited English Proficient students.

Keyes v. School District No. 1, Denver, Colorado, 413 U.S. 189 (1973) External link opens in new window or tab.
Keyes established that racially segregative actions in one portion of a school system could render the entire system liable to the definition as segregated.

Lau v. Nichols, 414 U.S. 563 (1974) External link opens in new window or tab.
This landmark opinion addressed the San Francisco school system failure to provide English language instruction to approximately 1,800 students of Chinese ancestry who do not speak English, or to provide them with other adequate instructional procedures, denied them a meaningful opportunity to participate in the public educational program, and thus violated Section 601 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Legal Citations to Support the Federal Program Monitoring English Learner Instrument
This is a legal citation document containing the United States Federal Law such as U.S. Code, Federal Regulations, Supreme Court Cases, Congressional Legislation and Office of Management and Budget Regulations. It also contains California State Law such as Education Code, Code of Regulations, and handbooks pertaining to English Learners.

Proposition 227 External link opens in new window or tab.
In June of 1998, California voters passed this ballot measure that requires all public school instruction be conducted in English. In addition, make available short-term placement, not to exceed one year, in intensive sheltered English immersion programs for children not fluent in English.

The California Department of Education, in 2000, contracted with the American Institutes for Research and WestEd to conduct a five-year evaluation of the effects of Proposition 227 on the education of English learners. 

Questions and Answers Regarding Inclusion of English Learners with Disabilities in English Language Proficiency Assessments and Title III Annual Measurance Achievement Objectives External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
The questions and answers included in this document are intended to help States and Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) to understand how Part B of the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Titles I and III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) address the inclusion of ELs with disabilities in annual State and English Language Proficiency (ELP) assessments. These are assessments designed to measure the progress of ELs in attaining English language proficiency.

United States Code Search Page External link opens in new window or tab.
General and permanent laws of the United States are codified by subject matter. It is divided by broad subjects into 50 titles and published by the U.S. House of Representatives, Office of the Law Revision Counsel.

United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights External link opens in new window or tab.
Promotes equal access to education and educational excellence throughout the nation through vigorous enforcement of civil rights. A civil right is an enforceable right or privilege, which if interfered with by another gives rise to an action for injury.

Questions:   Technical Assistance and Monitoring Office | 916-319-0938
Last Reviewed: Thursday, October 22, 2015

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