The Seattle School District won a round yesterday in the legal battle over its bilingual programs when a King County Superior Court judge ruled that a lawsuit demanding more native language instruction could only pertain to five languages.
The district is fighting a class-action lawsuit charging it with inadequately educating the 5,900 students enrolled in its bilingual programs.
Judge Ann Schindler’s ruling means the school system, if forced to offer more instruction in the native languages of its non- or limited English speaking students, would only have to offer it in Cambodian, Tagalog, Spanish, Vietnamese and Ilocano, said David Burman, an attorney for the Perkins Coie law firm, which is representing the district in the case.
Schindler could have included most or all of the estimated 75 languages spoken by the district’s 10,000 bilingual students.
The request was a major part of the lawsuit filed in December by Evergreen Legal Services, a legal aid firm for low-income families.
The suit also asks that the district be forced to spend more money on its bilingual programs and provide greater access for bilingual students to enter programs for gifted students.
The district in turn has filed suit against the state saying it has not adequately funded the programs.