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Hart district strikes back against ACLU claims

Report criticizing English-language education failed to count immersion students, educators say

Posted: January 31, 2013 6:09 p.m.
Updated: January 31, 2013 6:09 p.m.

An ACLU report that claims school districts across the state — including Hart — aren’t providing adequate English-language training is based on incomplete and inaccurate numbers, district officials said this week.

Officials in the William S. Hart Union High School District say the American Civil Liberties Union used incomplete and inaccurate numbers when criticizing the district for not offering appropriate services to English-language-learning students.

The report, released Jan. 23, used 2010 data available publicly in the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System to criticize the William S. Hart Union High School District, among others, for not providing adequate services to English-language-learning students. 2010 is the most recent year statewide data is available.

According to the data, the Hart district failed to provide English-language educational services to 1,142 of its 2,118 English-language-learning students.

But the district’s numbers in 2010 were a result of an incomplete data-reporting process that has since been changed, district officials say.

Michele Krantz, the Hart district’s director of professional development and special programs, wrote in a memo the state had neglected to count students involved in the district’s “Structured English Immersion” classes in 2010-2011.

Those classes are designed to improve English-language skills while also offering general education classes, educators say.

“The 2010 figures were incomplete because they did not include Structured English Immersion as a service for English Learners,” Krantz wrote.

District spokeswoman Gail Pinsker said 2011 was the first year the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System counted students in the district’s immersion classes among those receiving English-language-learning services.

After this recording change was made, the district reported that zero students had not received English-language-learning services during the 2011-2012 school year and only three had not received those services in the 2012-2013 school year.

The ACLU partnered with the Asian Pacific American Legal Center and the law firm of Latham & Watkins LLP to release the report.

The groups have also sent a letter to state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and members of the state Board of Education threatening legal action if the issues they raised are not resolved.

The Hart district does not anticipate being involved in any future ACLU action on the subject, Pinsker said.
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