Compromise sought on bilingual issue

DPS, federal officials meet to avoid legal battle over Denver's language program

Denver Public Schools is seeking a compromise with federal officials to avoid a court battle over bilingual education.

Superintendent Irv Moskowitz and board member Rita Montero met last week with top Department of Education officials in Washington to discuss more flexibility over which children enter the bilingual program, when they can leave and teacher qualifications.

Montero said the reception was neutral, ”but I thought a couple people were listening.”

She expects a response by the end of the week.

Tom Lyons, an education department spokesman, confirmed the meeting and said a response is coming.

”We’re trying to compromise without backing down from things we feel are important,” said Lynn Coleman, a board member.

DPS wants to use a variety of achievement measures to place a student in English-speaking classes. The education department wants to rely solely on standardized test scores.

The district asked for more freedom to waive a child from the program and more time to fully train its teachers. Federal officials want them qualified before entering classrooms.

Those are among several areas the department criticized in July when it alleged that DPS discriminated against limited-English and immigrant minority students with inadequate services.

Denver officials were encouraged because the education department has not formally asked the Justice Department to consider a lawsuit to force DPS to accept its orders. Three weeks ago education officials said that request was imminent.

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