Oceanside—The city’s public schools failed to fully provide for the needs of English learners in their implementation of Proposition 227, the California Department of Education stated in a report issued late Friday.

However, Superintendent Ken Noonan said Monday that all the deficiencies addressed in the report have already been corrected. The report follows visits by state and federal investigators to the district 10 months ago.

“This report confirms what parents have stated all along,” Deborah Escobedo,
an attorney for a group of parents, said in a press release on Monday. “That the needs of their children have been flagrantly ignored for some time,
while the district reveled in unsubstantiated press reports of success.”

The report cites four areas in which it states the Oceanside Unified School District failed to provide for the needs of English learners in its implementation of Prop. 227. The measure approved by California voters in June 1998 limited bilingual education at public schools.

While other school districts have granted waivers that allowed some students to continue the classes, Oceanside Unified School District’s strict interpretation of the law eliminated all bilingual classes.

The strict implementation of Prop. 227 has hurt the district’s limited-English-speaking students, Escobedo said.

Nevertheless, the district’s limited-English-speaking students have shown strong gains on achievement-test results since Prop. 227 went into effect.
This has prompted favorable national news coverage of the district,
including stories in The New York Times and Newsweek.

Investigators visited the district in December and January as the result of a discrimination complaint by parents filed in July 1999 with the California Department of Education and the federal Office of Civil Rights. Lawyers from Multicultural Education, Training & Advocacy Inc. and California Rural Legal Assistance Inc. represented the parents.

In its report, the state Department of Education found the district had failed in four areas:

Providing full access to the core curriculum for English learners.

Providing additional and appropriate educational services for English learners.

Establishing educationally sound criteria to determine appropriate program placement and transition.

Establishing goals for its program and to monitor the progress of English learners in acquiring English or to identify which students are incurring academic deficits while they learn English.
Noonan said his staff went to work to correct deficiencies soon after state officials visited the district in December and January.

“Staff listened carefully during the visit last year and were able to identify long before now those areas with which the Department of Education was likely going to take issue,” Noonan said.

“When it became clear that the (Department of Education) was going to take much longer than the expected couple of months to report its findings, we began actively working to refine our program to address the concerns we expected to appear.”

Those changes have been incorporated in an “English learner master plan” to be presented to the school board when it meets Oct. 10, he said.

One of the biggest changes to the language program was the addition of
“bridge” classes this year to address the concerns found by investigators,
Noonan said.

Initially, the district placed all non-English-speaking and limited-English-speaking students into one-year immersion classes. The bridge classes adopted this year are for students who have finished the immersion classes but are not ready for mainstream English classes.

“The bridge class … puts more kids into core classes,” Noonan said.

The strict limits the school district has placed on bilingual education waivers will remain in place and have been upheld by investigators, Noonan said.

“The state did not find us out of compliance on that,” he said.

Investigators also upheld the process the district used to notify parents of the waiver procedure, Noonan said.

Contact Staff Writer Phil Diehl at (760) 901-4087 or pdiehl@nctimes.com.

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