It May Take O.C. Years To Know Impact Of 227

EDUCATION: Most school officials say they are awaiting clarification from the state Department of Education.

Some school officials say they will resist. Others are awaiting instructions from Sacramento. Still others expect legal challenges to delay _ or deny _ the implementation of Proposition 227.

The initiative, which requires almost all students learning English to be taught in English, is supposed to be implemented within 60 days. But potential lawsuits to block it could come from civil and Hispanic rights groups and local school districts.

Santa Ana Unified School Board President Nativo Lopez said he’ll introduce a resolution at the board meeting Tuesday to file a lawsuit overturning Prop. 227. He’ll also encourage parents to sign waivers allowing their children to continue in bilingual programs.

“I think this will start a waiver movement,” Lopez said.

Most Orange County school officials said they are awaiting clarification from the California state Department of Education, which is supposed to issue a compliance advisory as soon as today.

Only 13 percent of Orange County’s 137,000 limited English proficient students are taught in Spanish, which would be outlawed under the initiative. But many educators foresee complications, ranging from how long students can remain in special English-immersion programs to whether teachers can use Spanish in emergencies.

Prop. 227:

Provides initial short-term placement, not normally exceeding one year, in intensive sheltered English immersion programs for children not fluent in English.

Allows waivers if parents or guardians can show a child already knows English, or has special needs, or would learn English faster through alternate instruction.

Appropriates $ 50 million per year for 10 years to fund individuals pledging to provide personal English tutoring to children in their community.

Permits lawsuits by parents if teachers disobey the law.

Here’s a sampling of how Orange County school districts plan to deal with the new law:

Anaheim Elementary: 12,186 students, or 60.5 percent of the district, are labeled Limited English Proficient, or LEP. No plans to implement the initiative. “Lawsuits are going to drag this one out,” said board member Benny Hernandez.

Garden Grove: 22,015 students or 48 percent LEP. Only 820 students at four schools receive instruction in Spanish; most others get assistance from classroom aides who speak Spanish, Vietnamese or Korean. “We will follow the law,” said district spokesman Alan Trudell.

Fullerton Elementary: 3,656 students or 29.3 percent LEP.

District awaiting state guidance. “It’s all very nebulous,” said Darlene Dubeck, Fullerton’s bilingual coordinator.

Irvine: 2,335 or 10 percent LEP. No teachers use Spanish; some aides assist. Concern is one-year cap; average Irvine student takes more than three years to be classified as fluent, said Melodie Zamudio, Irvine’s bilingual coordinator.

La Habra: 2,341 or 39.5 percent LEP. May group kids in different grades with similar English skills or create newcomers class for older students. Has not ordered Spanish books.

Newport-Mesa: 5,416 students or 25 percent LEP. Amended criteria for designating students fluent, but process may conflict with 227.

Orange: 7,218 students or 25 percent LEP. Implemented English-only instruction last fall; offers after-school, Saturday and vacation-time programs to English-learning students. “It’s difficult to do in one year. We about killed ourselves,” said Anita Jameson, director of special programs.

Saddleback Valley: 2,161 students or 6.5 percent LEP. Petitioned state to waive English-only requirement. Gates Elementary may form charter school to be exempt from 227.

Magnolia, Savanna and Westminster school districts have used English-only instruction for two years under state waiver, but officials said Prop. 227’s one-year intensive English-immersion program differs from theirs.

Fullerton Elementary, Garden Grove, Newport-Mesa and Placentia-Yorba Linda would have to discontinue part-time Spanish instruction at a handful of schools. Officials in Anaheim Union High School, Brea-Olinda, Buena Park, Cypress, Fullerton Joint Union High, Laguna Beach and Tustin said Prop. 227 would require no immediate changes.

Register staff writers Andrew Asch, Amy Diaz, Barbara Giasone, Jill Leach, Richard Manfredi, Heather McRea and Lyn Montagna contributed to this report.

Comments are closed.