Plaintiffs Want Number of Bilingual Teachers Tripled

TYLER, Texas—Two education groups have asked a federal judge to order the state to more than triple the number of bilingual teachers employed in Texas schools by 1984.

The groups, plaintiffs in an education suit, also asked U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice to appoint two court masters and 20 regional monitors to oversee whatever bilingual education plan the court imposes.

The judge in January found that the state’s system was wholly inadequate and said Texas must offer bilingual education to any Spanish speaking student needing it in any grade.

He had set Monday as a deadline for the plaintiffs and the state to submit recommendations about bilingual education if they were unable to agree on a plan.

The Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Harvard Center for Law and Education met the deadline, submitting a single plan. The U.S. Justice Department was expected to submit its recommendations Tuesday, a clerk in Justice’s office said.

The state has asked that the deadline be extended to June 15, two weeks after the state Legislature’s current session ends.

Gov. Bill Clements, Lt. Gov. Bill Tobby and House Speaker Bill Clayton last Friday announced the formation of a joint task force to develop a plan beyond the third grade, the last grade for which bilingual education is required by the state.

The plan suggested by the two plaintiffs calls for training and certifying 20,100 bilingual teachers within six years, according to Norma Solis, a lawyer and negotiator for Legal Defense.

A Texas Education Agency official said some 6,500 bilingual teachers were certified in the school years 1973-74 through 1979-80, but there is no way to determine how many still are employed. Only 738 reportedly were certified under tougher standards in the 1979-80 school year.

Under the plaintiffs’ plan, the two part-time court masters would have authority to subpoena documents and witnesses, resolve disputes and rule districts in or out of compliance. The full-time regional monitors would be investigators and provide technical assistance to the school districts.

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