Granting exceptions to an anti-bilingual education ballot initiative would be legal suicide.

That’s the gist of the advice Denver School Board President Elaine Berman says she received from attorneys she asked to review a ballot initiative that, if approved in November, would require non-English speakers to be taught in English.

The students would receive as much as one year of intensive English instruction before moving to regular classes.

Students could get waivers from these requirements if they already speak English, if they are older than 10 or if they have “special individual needs.”

But parents would have up to 10 years to sue the waiver granter if they concluded the exception had “injured” the child.

“The waiver process is so restrictive that our legal counsel and several other attorneys we have consulted have advised us they cannot envision a situation where they would recommend granting a waiver,” Berman said.

Nonsense, says Ron Unz, the Silicon Valley millionaire who helped pass similar measures in California and Arizona.

Though he concedes the special needs waivers could be hard to obtain in Colorado, Unz says the age and language-based waivers should be very straightforward.

Unz said the ballot language allowing parents to sue for 10 years was added to the Colorado initiative after California and Arizona schools granted waivers en masse and played other tricks to dodge the law.



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