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New Orleans Schools Face Complaint About Treatment of ELL Families

A new complaint alleging that some charter schools in New Orleans are discriminating against the non-English-speaking parents of Vietnamese and Latino students has been filed with federal civil rights officials.

Announced earlier today, the complaint—brought by two Asian-American civil rights organizations—says that a handful of charter schools on the city's east side are failing to provide translated documents to non-English-speaking parents regarding enrollment, report cards, parent-teacher conferences and major school events, suspensions and other disciplinary actions, and the availability of services for students who need English-language-acquisition support and/or special education. The complaint also says the schools have not adequately provided interpretation services for parents who do not speak and understand English, as required by federal law.

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, or AALDEF, and the Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association, or VAYLA, submitted the complaint today to the U.S. Department of Education's civil rights office. AALDEF is a national organization based in New York City. VAYLA is a New Orleans advocacy organization for the city's Vietnamese-American community, which is centered in East New Orleans. The civil rights groups also single out the Recovery School District and the Orleans Parish school board, which oversee the city's charter schools.

This complaint is similar to several others that school districts have had to face—especially in the South—as they have become new gateways for immigrant families in recent years. There's been a robust Vietnamese community in New Orleans for decades, but the Latino community has mostly arrived in the eight years since Hurricane Katrina.

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