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Boston ELLs Who Missed Out To Get Makeup Services

Boston English-language learners who since 2003 didn't get the ELL services that they were entitled to under federal law are eligible to receive makeup services under a settlement agreement signed today by Boston Public Schools with the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education. The agreement says the school district must provide those "compensatory services" before the students graduate from high school.

The agreement doesn't say exactly how many students must be offered the makeup services but Eileen De Los Reyes, the Boston district's assistant superintendent for ELLs, said the number is 8,300 students. That breaks down to 4,000 students who were not identified as ELLs because of testing issues, and 4,300 students who were inappropriately categorized as having "opted out" of programs, she said.

The agreement says the services will be offered during out-of-school hours.

The 44-page agreement contains plenty of other mandates for Boston's 135 schools, including that, starting this school year, all schools must provide services for ELLs, even if they have only small numbers of such students. Previously, educators deemed some ELLs to have "opted out" of services because their parents sent them to a school that didn't provide services. The federal agencies have made it clear they won't have any more of that.

You can read about the other mandates in an article about the agreement I just wrote for EdWeek.

Given that the Justice Department has opened investigations of ELL services in 14 school districts, in addition to Boston, since President Obama took office in January 2009, it's probably not a bad idea for any school district to carefully study the settlement agreement from Boston. It gives a sense of how the current administration is interpreting the implementation of federal civil rights laws for ELLs.

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