As some school districts were in court Thursday seeking to circumvent Proposition 227, Los Angeles-area educators met in the San Fernando Valley to hash out how to make the transition to one-year English immersion classes.
Unlike emotionally volatile meetings of the past, the gathering in Van Nuys ran smoothly, with teachers and administrators seeking clarification on various aspects of the law that phases out bilingual education.
“Everybody is stepping up to the plate,” said Forrest Ross, director of the Language Acquisition Branch of the Los Angeles Unified School District. “We want to make sure parents’ rights are protected and that we move to develop English literacy for all students.”
Hundreds of educators from Valley-area schools received a primer on the implementation of Proposition 227, which requires students with limited English proficiency to enroll in one-year English immersion programs. In the past, students could remain in bilingual programs indefinitely.
The four-hour meeting at Grant High School was one of six sessions designed for teachers, administrators, counselors and others responsible for implementing the new law, passed by 61 percent of California voters in June. Thursday’s meeting was the only one scheduled for Valley employees.
On the same day in Oakland, a judge ordered the state Board of Education to consider allowing school districts to keep bilingual programs despite passage of Proposition 227.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Henry Needham ruled that the state board, appointed by Gov. Pete Wilson, must consider a school district’s request for a complete waiver, which would let it keep its entire bilingual program.
So far, 38 of California’s 1,000 school districts have sought waivers from at least part of Proposition 227, said Michael Hersher, a lawyer for the state Department of Education.
Los Angeles Unified School District board President Victoria Castro said the district is unlikely to seek such a blanket waiver. Fearful that such waivers may later be denied and cause further confusion for schools, Castro said she would rather monitor the situation.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.