SPLC urges North Carolina school district to strictly enforce plan resolving civil rights complaint
A North Carolina school district’s recently announced plan to resolve a civil rights complaint is an important step toward protecting the rights of students and their families who speak little English, but the Southern Poverty Law Center and Legal Aid of North Carolina, which filed the complaint, are urging school officials to diligently enforce the plan to ensure success.
The plan was announced Thursday and comes after the SPLC filed the complaint with the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) against the Wake County Public School System last year.
The complaint described how parents with limited English proficiency (LEP) were not provided important school information – such as special education materials and notices of long-term suspension – in a language they understood. It led to an investigation by the DOE’s Office for Civil Rights and a subsequent settlement agreement between the school system and the federal government, which included the creation of a comprehensive language assistance plan.
“It is encouraging that the Wake County Public School System has developed a plan to address the rights and needs of LEP parents; school officials must now ensure this plan becomes action,” said Caren Short, staff attorney for the SPLC. “As we’ve said, this is about ensuring that every student in the district has an opportunity to succeed. A crucial component of that success is a parent’s participation in their child’s education, especially special education and discipline matters.”
The school system’s plan includes notifying parents about the availability of free language services, enabling school staffers to use qualified interpreters and other language services when necessary, and providing translations of many important documents and communications.