Welcome To New York City Mr. Mills; You're Being Sued...

A lawsuit charges state officials with allowing thousands of New York City students to be kept in bilingual education longer than the law and common sense dictate.

State Education Commissioner Richard Mills, in his second week on the jobs,
was sued Monday by a parents group from Brooklyn who believes bilingual students are “segregated” in poor classes taught primarily in languages other than English.

“It’s motivated by the feeling of the lot of people… that bilingual education is out of hand and a lot of people are trapped in it,” said Robert Smith, lawyer for the Bushwick Parents Organization.

A spokesman for Mills said the state bows to the wishes of New York City school officials and notes that parents dissatisfied with the program have other options.

Enrollment in bilingulal pro-grams in New York City schools increased from 94,000 students in 1987-88 to 154,000 students in 1993-94, according to the lawsuit. In these programs, students are taught primarily in their native language.

State law requires that students enrolled in bilingual education be switched to classes taught in English within three years. However, the state education commissioner is authorized to extend this for up to six years in the case of individual pupils, the lawsuit said.

The parents, group said the commissioner routinely allows students to be kept in these classes, sometimes for more than six years, and doesn’t review their progress individually.

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