In its publication The Provision of an Equal Education Opportunity to Limited English Proficient Students (1992), the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, provides guidelines to school districts regarding their legal obligation to language minority students. The following is a summary of the guidelines.
First, school districts must identify all students whose primary or home language is other than English (PHLOTE). Then, the district needs to assess all PHLOTE students to determine if they are limited English proficient (LEP) and need special language assistance to participate effectively in the district's instructional program. For further information regarding the initial identification of LEP students, refer to the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) document Guidelines for the Identification and Assessment of Limited English Proficient Students” (click here).
After a school district has identified LEP students who need assistance, it must determine what kind of special language service program is to be provided, and it must implement the program. In Ohio, there is not a specific type of intervention program that is prescribed. Thus, school districts have the flexibility to decide on the educational approach that best meets the needs of their LEP students. However, the program must be based on sound theory and best practice. In other words, the program must be one that is likely to be effective in meeting the educational needs of its language minority students. Whatever program is selected, it must provide effective instruction that leads to academic achievement and timely acquisition of proficiency in English. Further information about programmatic options for LEP students can be found in the ODE document “Characteristics of Programs Serving LEP Students in Ohio” (click here).
In implementing its program, school districts must ensure that staff members are properly trained and that appropriate curricular materials are used. In addition, classroom facilities should be comparable to those used by other students. School districts have the responsibility to notify national origin minority group parents of school activities which are called to the attention of other parents. Such a notice, to be effective, may have to be in a language other than English.
Once a school district implements a special language program for its LEP students, it must monitor students' progress on a regular basis and take steps to modify the program if the students are not making reasonable progress.
For further information, contact the Lau Resource Center:
Ohio Department of Education
Office of Curriculum and Assessment
Lau Resource Center
25 South Front Street, Mail Stop 509
Columbus, OH 43215-4183
Toll-free: (877) 644-6338
Dan Fleck, Consultant
Abdinur Mohamud, Consultant
Anita Bowden, Administrative Assistant