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Reminder of Legal Obligations to English Learners

California Department of Education
Official Letter
California Department of Education
Official Letter

November 3, 2015

Dear Select County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators:


The California Department of Education (CDE) is committed to the goal that all English learner (EL) students receive appropriate instruction and services. As part of the settlement of a lawsuit involving ELs, D.J., et al. v. State of California, et al., the CDE is sending additional reminders to select local educational agencies (LEAs) of their legal obligations to provide instructional services to all ELs.

During the 2010–11 school year, your LEA submitted data in the column “EL Students as Not Receiving Any EL Instructional Services.”

LEAs enrolling EL students have a dual obligation to provide a program for ELs designed to overcome language barriers and provide access to the core curriculum. (Castañeda v. Pickard 648 F.2d 989, [5th Cir. 1981]). The CDE recognizes that both services must be an integral part of a comprehensive program for every EL. Pursuant to the terms of the settlement agreement, the CDE is informing you that LEAs, not already providing services, are required to provide English Learner instructional services, and other services determined necessary by the LEA immediately.

Also, in order to assist you, on January 7, 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education (ED) provided guidance to school districts, and all public schools to meet their legal obligation to ensure that ELs can participate meaningfully and equally in all educational programs and services. The guidance is available on the ED web page at and accompanied by a 10-chapter English Learner Tool Kit at

Additionally, the CDE strives to provide LEAs with the most up-to-date information on standards, frameworks, curriculum materials, professional development opportunities, Webinars and online resources available to assist LEAs in the delivery of appropriate educational services to ELs. On September 18, 2015, the CDE sent LEAs guidance on how to fulfill the dual obligation by implementing integrated and designated English Language Development (ELD) instruction as part of a comprehensive delivery plan for ELs. The guidance letter titled, “Designated and Integrated English Language Development” and various resources are available on the CDE Correspondence web page at

If you have any questions regarding programs and services for ELs, please contact Elena Fajardo, Administrator, Language Policy and Leadership Office, by phone at 916-319-0845 or by email at


/s/ Veronica Aguila

Veronica Aguila, Director
English Learner Support Division

/s/ Jerry Winkler

Jerry Winkler, Director
Educational Data Management Division


Last Reviewed: Friday, September 27, 2019
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