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ELL Civil Rights Probes Span From Coast to Coast

While the Boston school district has settled with the U.S. departments of Justice and Education on how to fix civil rights violations for English-language learners, services for such students in eight other school districts are currently being investigated in compliance reviews by the Education Department's office for civil rights.

OCR officials released to me this week the names of the school districts, scattered from coast to coast, where investigations are taking place. In six school districts, they're looking into whether the districts are "ensuring access to equal educational opportunities" for ELLs, an e-mail from the Education Department said. Those six are:

Los Angeles Unified School District
Hazelton (Pa.) Area School District
DeQueen (Ark.) Public Schools
New London (Conn.) Public Schools
Tigard-Tualatin (Ore.) Public Schools
Lake Washington (Wash.) School District

The OCR also has compliance reviews in process in the Tulsa (Okla.) Public Schools and Dearborn (Mich.) Public Schools. In both those districts, as well as Hazelton (listed above), investigations are looking into whether communication is effective with parents of ELLs. In Dearborn, the investigation also concerns the quality of counseling services for ELLs.

A spokeswoman for the Justice Department has told me the agency has opened 15 investigations into school districts concerning ELL services since President Obama took office in January 2009, but she declined to name the districts. The Justice and Education department probes on ELLs overlap in some locations, but I don't know where at this point, other than in Los Angeles and Boston.

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