LULAC, MALDEF File Federal Suit Over Texas English Language Learner Programs

Jun 11, 2014

The Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on the behalf of the League of United Latin-American Citizens, alleging the state of Texas isn’t doing enough to advance English language learner (ELL) students in public schools.

The lawsuit also names San Antonio-area school districts North East ISD and Southwest ISD as defendants and references continuing state education reports to show ELL students are not given as many opportunities as other students.

"One of them is the state’s own English Language Proficiency Assessment, and it shows where more than one out of every two English language learner children in grades 3-12 are not advancing at least one proficiency level from one year to the next,” said MALDEF attorney David Hinojosa.

Hinojosa said because students are overcoming language barriers, that is a violation of the Federal Equal Education Opportunities Act of 1974. Hinojosa said a lot of that comes from what goes on in the classroom.

“The only opportunity they have to learn English is when they’re pulled out for one hour a day and put in front of a computer -- supposed to be taught by an ESL instructor," Hinojosa said.

Hinojosa said in school districts that mimic this scenario the dropout rate for ELL students is one in four.    LULAC is asking a federal judge to declare that the state is in violation of federal law and order the Texas Legislature to fix the problem.

Complaint Filed by LULAC, MALDEF against Texas Education Agency, other districts