The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it has settled an investigation over complaints that the Charleston County School District of South Carolina did not provide adequate language assistance to parents. The DOJ found that the district failed to communicate essential information to thousands of Spanish-speaking, limited-English-proficient (LEP) parents, denying their children full and equal access to education programs and services.
The investigation found that the district often failed to use qualified interpreters and did not consistently translate essential written information for parents into Spanish.
“Empowering parents and guardians with the information necessary to meaningfully participate in their children’s education is critical to students’ success in school and beyond,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela Karlan of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. “We look forward to continuing to work with the Charleston County School District to implement this agreement and fulfill its promise of equal treatment for all the district’s students and their parents.”
The DOJ said the district has committed to improve its practices through revised policies and professional development. The settlement agreement requires the district to use qualified interpreters and translators to communicate with parents about matters essential to their children’s education and to cease relying on family members, untrained staff, and students for such purposes. The district will also provide LEP parents with access to documents and information about program offerings, including special education services, in a language they understand. The agreement also requires the district to provide interpreting and translation services at each of its 80 schools and programs.
The district said it is working to implement effective policies and procedures and provide employees with training so that schools can properly identify and provide meaningful communication to LEP parents and guardians. It will also ensure that all parents and guardians knowingly consent to or decline educational programming and services for their children. The district will contact LEP parents and guardians prior to holding special education meetings to notify them of the right to have a qualified interpreter at the meeting and translated special education documents, at no cost to the parent/guardian.
Read Full Article from U.S. Department of Justice (DC) (03/02/21)
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