Boyle Heights: Students to Remain in Bilingual Classes

Parents at Lorena Street School still are upset that English-speaking children were placed into bilingual classes shortly after the school year began, but most are resigned to the likelihood that no changes will made this school year.

About four months ago, 150 parents and community activists began picketing the school after 38 English-speaking students were removed from classes where only English is spoken and put into modified bilingual classes, where teachers spend half the time instructing in Spanish and the other half in English.

The Boyle Heights students were transferred after the Los Angeles Unified School District implemented a new cost-cutting plan that required the school to displace two teachers — Rick Wong, a Chinese-American, and Roberta Welch, an African-American. The two teachers were targeted because neither are certified to teach bilingual classes and because the school exceeded a U.S. Office for Civil Rights limit for minority teachers.

“We’re still upset because we haven’t gotten back our teachers,” said Ana Moreno, whose son attends the school. “Parents that have children in school have been asking me, ‘When are we going to do something again?’ “

While Moreno said she and other parents are hopeful that the school will hire more English teachers next year, Principal Mona Riddall said that will depend on the number of students who enroll, as well as the number of teaching positions that become available.

“Generally, the situation has calmed down significantly,” Riddall said. “We’re functioning very normally, and as a crisis, it’s completely gone.”

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