Teachers challenge Prop. 227 liability

A provision of the initiative says parents can sue educators for not giving instruction in English

Parents should not be allowed to sue teachers who fail to follow
Proposition 227, the initiative that requires students to be taught
in English, a teachers union contends in a lawsuit filed Thursday.

The proposition, approved by state voters in June, allows
parents to sue teachers or administrators who “willfully and
repeatedly” refuse to implement its requirement that instruction be
conducted overwhelmingly in English.

The clause allowing suits is key to enforcing the
English-instruction rule for California’s 1.4 million
limited-English students.

The California Teachers Association, which represents 285,000
state teachers, said in its lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in
Los Angeles that the proposition is unconstitutionally vague and
exposes teachers to potentially frivolous lawsuits.

“We’re not telling them to break the law,” said CTA spokeswoman
Tommye Hutto. “We’re just saying that there is no other law of any
kind anywhere that holds teachers personally liable like this.”

Ron Unz, author of Prop. 227, said the law is clear about what
it means to teach in English and that teachers should have no fear
of suits if they comply.

In July, a federal judge refused to grant an injunction against
Prop. 227 sought by Hispanic and civil-rights groups, which joined
the CTA in Thursday’s filing. The lawsuit names Gov. Pete Wilson,
State Superintendent Delaine Eastin and the State Board of
Education as defendants.

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