New Orleans Schools Not Supporting ELL Families

For parents to be involved in their child's education, it helps if they have access to things like enrollment information, report cards, parent-teacher conferences, major school events, disciplinary action, and student services. But non-English speaking parents don't always get that access because schools don't always provide translation services or translated materials, thereby limiting how much those parents can help and support their children.

A new complaint filed by the Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association (VAYLA), which is an OTL ally, and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) criticizes schools operating in East New Orleans for failing to meet the language needs of Asian American and Latino students and parents with limited English. Their complaint is based on a report, "ESL: Lost in the System," which was compiled by students from VAYLA's Youth Organizing United (YOU2) campaign:

"The DOJ complaint is the culmination of more than two years of investigation by VAYLA, AALDEF, and YOU2 youth leaders into the educational equity and access issues for limited-English speaking communities in New Orleans. Earlier this year in May, YOU2 released a report, "ESL: Lost in the System," documenting the rights violations that English Language Learners (ELLs) and their families have endured at many of their schools. The filing is the next step in a campaign to hold schools accountable for providing the highest quality of language services to students and language access for parents […]

'For too long students, parents, and community members have been affected by issues with navigating schools that are not equipped to support their participation or their children,' said Minh Nguyen, VAYLA Executive Director. 'Not only do we want to bring attention to the problems within this system, we want to be a part of the solution. By sharing our recommendations to improve the learning experiences for limited-English proficient students and families, we hope to create a school system that truly values them. The complaint being filed today represents our commitment to education equity for students and families across New Orleans who deserve a truly high quality education.'" 

Read AALDEF's press release about the complaint here. And check out the news coverage from Education Week and the Times-Picayune for some great quotes from the advocates leading this fight.

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