Hispanic coalition suing Orange board to block switch to English-only teaching

EDUCATION: Change from bilingual classes is set to begin Friday.

ORANGE, CA—A coalition of Hispanic advocacy groups has gone to court in an attempt to block the Orange Unified School District’s plan to to switch from bilingual to English-only instruction beginning Friday.

Three other Orange County school districts _ Westminster, Magnolia and Savanna _ already have been quietly granted waivers
from bilingual teaching by the state. But Orange’s plan has been
complicated from the outset by complaints that the district’s bilingual programs violated a variety of federal guidelines, said Kathryn Dronenburg, a state Board of Education member from El Cajon.

The coalition’s lawsuit, filed in Sacramento Superior Court last week, seeks to prevent the district from dismantling bilingual programs affecting about 1,400 children _ or about 5 percent of the district. Earlier this month, the state board failed to act on Orange’s one-year application for a bilingual waiver, effectively granting the request.

“We’ve been backed into a corner,” said Amin David, president of Los Amigos of Orange County, one of three groups in the coalition.

The lawsuit may get an initial hearing as soon as Wednesday.

“It seems like this was bound to happen,” said Marty Jacobson, Orange board president. “But we are confident we have the support
of the community on this, includingLatino parents I think they
see, as we do, that English-only instruction is a critical part of preparing to be successful in this society. “

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