Santa Rosa’s Board of Education unanimously approved a plan Wednesday night to abide by Proposition 227 by instructing limited-English students in English and telling their parents they have a right to seek a waiver for extra instruction in Spanish.
Although the initiative’s authors had envisioned placing limited-English students in separate classes, Santa Rosa students will remain in regular classrooms.
Teachers will be allowed to speak Spanish up to 60 minutes a day. But board President Hugh Futrell noted many of those students will hear very little Spanish because so many elementary school teachers aren’t bilingual.
Voters in June approved Proposition 227, which seeks to eliminate most bilingual programs around the state.
Santa Rosa had nearly 1,500 second-language students out of 4,500 elementary school pupils last year. Some of them received some instruction in their native Spanish last year. About 200 received no language instruction by specially trained bilingual teachers.
School officials said Santa Rosa lacks a systematic plan for helping second-language students, but that one will be developed this year.
“The future of our community really depends on making this plan a success,” Futrell said. He noted Santa Rosa elementary schools have a higher percentage of second-language students than the state as a whole — about 32 percent compared with 25 percent.
Proposition 227 requires such students to receive special instruction in English, unless the child’s parent seeks a waiver. Administrators said this year that instruction will be done both by specially trained teachers and by those who will be working for a special certificate.
“Every elementary school teacher is going to be obligated to have training,” said Superintendent Dale Vigil.
Administrators will return to the board with details on how they will notify the parents of second-language students about waivers, as well as guidelines for granting and denying such waivers.