According to La Prensa, school-aged children of LEP/NEP (limited-/non-English proficient) parents in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District recently scored a critical (and replicable!) language access victory. Legal Aid attorney Megan L. Sprecher filed a complaint against the District under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for failing to provide appropriate interpreting and translation services to LEP/NEP parents. The District has entered into a resolution agreement with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights to ensure that parents with kids enrolled in the District have equal access to important information and activities effecting their kids. The agreement states that the District will:
- Develop a written plan to adequately notify the parents and provide them with meaningful access to the school’s programs and activities;
- Develop a notification system for parents in a language that they can understand;
- Identify LEP parents within the school, determine what language is best to communicate with them in, and provide a centralized list of LEP parents and the language access services they require;
- Ensure that translators and interpreters are qualified and trained to maintain families’ confidentiality;
- Ensure that interpreters are qualified and trained, in both English and another language, in all the necessary terminology, such as special education terms; and,
- Provide written communications and vital documents to LEP/NEP parents in the language they understand, using appropriate vocabulary and phraseology.
The Office of Civil Rights will review and approve the District’s plan, then monitor the District until it is found in compliance with the plan. Without plenary language access for LEP/NEP parents, school children are effectively deprived of their fundamental right to primary and secondary education.