The legal director of the local ACLU is defending the data used to accuse the Grossmont Union High School District of failing to provides services to 1,300-plus English learner students.
After the Grossmont district issued a statement blaming a state reporting error in an American Civil Liberties Union report, David Loy of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties told Patch: “The numbers we cited derive from data reported to the state by school districts themselves, including GUHSD.”
Loy said that when districts such as GUHSD report that large numbers of English language learning (ELL) students are receiving no ELL services, “the state has a legal duty to investigate and determine whether necessary services are not being provided or whether the report derives from a reporting error, as GUHSD states, and then follow up to ensure the problem does not recur.”
He added via email Friday: “The state should have been asking those questions long ago.”
Last week, in a letter to state officials critical of many school districts, the ACLU said 41 percent of Grossmont ELL students were receiving no services—1,389 out of 3,368 students.
The district called the numbers “false and reflects a data reporting problem. … GUHSD will work with the California Department of Education to better align our data to CDE’s classifications.”
The 1,389 ELL students in question were proficient enough to be enrolled in mainstream English classes, the district said.
Asked whether Grossmont had a response to Loy’s remarks, spokeswoman Catherine Martin on Wednesday said no.
“The [Jan. 24] statement stands as our response,” she said via email.
Karen Cadiero-Kaplan, director of the California Department of Education’s English Learner Support Division, a week ago issued a statement regarding media coverage of the ACLU report.
“Despite the enormous financial strains of recent years, California has made dramatic progress in seeing that all English learners receive appropriate instruction and services,” Cadiero-Kaplan said.
She said school districts report that more than 98 percent of the state’s 1.4 million English learners are receiving services.
“The [Education] Department has yet to see or review the claims made [Jan. 23], although it is noteworthy that a previous action by some of the same parties was recently dismissed with no adverse finding against the CDE,” she said.
A recent Court of Appeal decision affirmed that the department and the state schools superintendent “had fulfilled their legal obligations related to on-site monitoring of English learners,” she said.
Even so, her statement concluded: “The department encourages any parents concerned about the instruction of their children to work with their local school district and, if necessary, make use of the department’s complaint process to resolve any concerns.”
For the ACLU’s part, Loy said, “The problems we detail transcend any individual district. We are looking for a statewide solution to a statewide problem, in compliance with the state’s legal obligations.”