ACLU sues California schools over English instruction

BAKERSFIELD, Calif.---In California, one out of every four students in public schools is identified as an English language learner. In Kern County, it's one out of every four students. A lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union claims however, that school districts across California are denying services to these students. Further, the suit claims the state knows this but is doing nothing about it.

"We know from the resarch that English learners who don't receive services are more likely to drop out of and less likely to graduate," said ACLU staff attorney Jessica Price.

Price said the figures about denying services to English learners comes straight from the district themeselves. The suit claims that more than 20,000 students acros the state are receiving no EL services whatsoever.

No school districts in Kern County are named in the lawsuit, but Price said that in the Kern High School District, 401 English learners are denied services.

"Wev'e communicated with quite a few families in the district who are frustrated," said Price.

Kern High School District spokesman John Teves said the district takes issue with the word "denied" services.

"We're interested to see exactly what they're talking about," said Teves. KHSD does provide services to all students learning English said Teves.

"Some of our students are listed as not receiving services, but they are not receiving services because their parents chose for them not to receive English language services," said Teves.

Price said the ultimate goal of the lawsuit is to make sure the state holds school districts accountable for providing services to students learning English.