The Glendale Elementary School District is one of the first West Valley districts to set guidelines for how a child qualifies for bilingual education under the new state law.

The public voted Nov. 7 to ban bilingual education in favor of English immersion to teaching children who don’t speak English. Proposition 203, however, made room for providing bilingual education if certain conditions were met.

Under Glendale Elementary’s new policy, which was approved Tuesday, principals have the authority to place a student in bilingual education if it is best for the student’s physical or psychological needs. To be considered for a bilingual class, a child must be 10 years old or older or have had 30 days minimum in an English-only classroom.

Waivers also may be granted if the student has good English skills.

Other districts, such as Peoria Unified, are still studying what to do. Dysart Unified is waiting for the state Department of Education to interpret the law.

“We don’t have any guidance to give school districts because we’re waiting to hear back from the (state) Attorney General’s Office,” Department of Education spokeswoman Laura Penny said.

She said it is unclear when the law should be implemented — before the current school year is over or in the fall.

The Department of Education will commission a study on the cost of educating students who are not proficient in English and present the findings this legislative session. A federal judge had ordered the state to do the study because not enough state money was being spent to educate the children.

Kitty Kaczmarek, director of curriculum and instruction for Glendale Elementary, said her district needed to move ahead in defining the new law.

She is not sure how many parents will request a waiver. She said 3,000 of the district’s nearly 12,000 students currently are in either bilingual or English as a Second Language classes.

“We are going to be in a revolving door” with students coming in and out of the district this spring, Kaczmarek said. “Parents are coming to us and asking what this means. We needed to get a sense of how this will impact us.”

The Glendale Elementary board approved a policy outlining the provisions for parental waivers to the Structured English Immersion Instruction. Unless a waiver is granted, non-English-speaking students will be given one school year to transition out of bilingual education into English-speaking classes.

Beginning this month, district officials will begin holding group and individual meetings with parents at their local schools to explain the new policy. Principals are in the process of determining those dates and times.

Statewide, about 45,000 students are in bilingual education programs.

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