The Schools across the state are flouting bilingual law and the state just looks the other way, Hispanic parents are charging in a major lawsuit announced yesterday.
“This is a disaster,” said Roger L. Rice, one of the attorneys for the Lynn and Chelsea Hispanic Parents Councils.
“Instead of railing about, ‘This is America and you’ve got to learn English,’ you need to enforce the law.”
The parents are suing the Education Commissioner Robert Antonucci and the state Department of Education for breach of contract and are demanding that the state enforce the law.
Alan Safran, spokesman for the state Department of Education, said he hadn’t seen the lawsuit and couldn’t comment.
The state’s 1972 bilingual law requires schools to offer foreign-speaking students teachers in their own language until they learn enough English to be taught in a mainstream classroom.
But thousands of foreign-speaking students are herded into classrooms where they can’t understand a word, parents said.
They charge that school districts all over the state routinely shove foreign-speaking children into separate and unequal classrooms. And the state ignores that illegal policy, the parents charge.
“It’s don’t ask, don’t tell,” said Nelson Merced, a Boston bilingual activist.
In Quincy, students spend their entire day in all-English classes, the parents charge.
Quincy Superintendent Eugene Creedon acknoledged that was the case yesterday.
But most of the foreign-speaking students in Quincy are from Asia, he said, and it’s difficult to find teachers who know their language.
“Are we perfect?” Creedon asked. “No. But I don’t know any school that is. Certainly the problem is not to the extent they suggested.”
Rice said the Department of Education doesn’t investigate violations because it doesn’t have the staff.
“They should go and get more personnel,” Rice said. “There’s a feeling this is a law that doesn’t need to be enforced.”