Districtwide bilingual waiver sought for schools

San Bernardino board member, supported by parents, succeeds in getting the issue on a Sept. 15 agenda.

SAN BERNARDINO–A San Bernardino school board member, backed by about 20 parents, requested Tuesday that district administrators apply for a waiver that would exempt all district schools from Prop. 227’s requirement that children be taught mostly in English.

The proposal was met with no support from other board members.

However, the idea will be placed on the school board agenda for discussion at the Sept. 15 meeting.

Board member Elsa Valdez said the district has been forced to implement Prop. 227 in a rush.

“The districtwide waiver would give us some time to implement a good program, rather than rushing to do this overnight,” she said.

Prop. 227, passed in June, wiped out most bilingual programs starting Aug. 2. However, parents may seek waivers to keep their children in bilingual classes if the students already know English, are at least 10 years old,
or have “special needs. “

Parents of more than 300 pupils in the San Bernardino City Unified School District have signed waivers requesting that their children remain in a bilingual program.

School officials are reviewing the requests.??Under the law,
school districts are required to offer bilingual classes at schools where administrators have approved waivers for 20 students or more in the same grade.

Soledad Castillo, a representative for the district’s parent bilingual advisory committee, turned out for Tuesday’s meeting with petitions requesting a districtwide waiver.

“So far we have gotten signatures from about 80 parents,” she said through an interpreter.??”I’ve been taking these everywhere??-
to the supermarkets, to parents in my neighborhoods.??It’s hard work, but it’s for a good cause. “

Castillo said parents are scared that the individual waivers they have signed will not be approved.

Danny Gonzales, co-chair of the district’s bilingual task force, made up of parents, teachers and administrators, said it is a burden for school officials to consider each waiver the parents sign.

“Most of the members of the task force support a districtwide waiver,”
he said.

However, most of the board members did not want the proposal placed on the next board agenda.

Only board members Danny Tillman and Tony Dupre vocally supported a discussion of the idea.

“I don’t see that there’s anything wrong with having a dialogue,”
said Tillman.

So far, 37 schools or districts have requested waivers from the state law’s requirements.??On Thursday, an Alameda County Superior Court judge ruled that the state board of education must consider a local district’s request for a waiver, which would let it keep its entire bilingual program.??Whether the ruling has statewide implications is unclear.



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