Important English Language Learner Bills Move Forward

May 17th, 2017 | By | Category: Advocacy, News
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Jeff Frost


—After years of efforts by education advocates trying to improve the opportunities of EL students through the legislative process, we are now making progress. With the language in the Local Control Funding Formula focusing on the improving the academic outcomes of EL students as a key accountability requirement, the growing participation of Latinos in the state legislature, and a governor open to improving outcomes of EL students, there has been significant progress made. In this session are two bills that move the needle even further. These two bills are outlined below.

AB 81 (Gonzalez Fletcher)—English Learners: Identification: Notice

This bill requires that parents be annually informed if their children are long-term English learners (LTELs) or at risk of becoming LTELs (ARLTELs). The bill also requires the California Department of Education (CDE) to develop a sample notification letter providing parents information about the home language survey. Specifically:

1. This bill expands existing parental notification requirements regarding the assessment of a student’s English proficiency to contain information on: whether the child is an LTEL or an ARLTEL or whether the manner in which the district’s program for English language development (ELD) instruction will meet the educational strengths and needs of  these students.

2. The bill also requires the CDE to make available to schools a sample notification letter and requires that it be provided with the home language survey used to determine the primary language of a student at the time of enrollment.

3. The bill requires that the notification letter explain the purpose of the home language survey and the procedures for classification and reclassification of English learners. The following statements will be sent to parents: “If a language other than English is noted on your child’s home language survey, the law requires us to test your child’s English language proficiency.” The bill is in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

SB 463 (Lara)—English Learner Reclassification

SB 463 deletes the requirement for the California Department of Education to establish procedures for the reclassification of a student from English learner to English proficient and would instead require a local educational agency to determine reclassification according to the specified criteria for purposes of establishing statewide standards for reclassifying English learners. This bill is in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Additionally, the new Trump Administration policies on immigration and deportation have sparked legislative efforts to address the impacts of these policies in California. The bills outlined below are also moving through the legislature. SB 54 (DeLeon) would designate California as a sanctuary state, SB 257 (Lara) addresses the American children of deported parents, and AB 699 (O’Donnell) focuses on pupil residency. These bills do the following.

SB 54 (DeLeon)—Cooperation With Federal Immigration Entities

This bill states that California law enforcement agencies shall not do any of the following:

1. Use agency or department moneys, facilities, property, equipment, or personnel to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect, or arrest persons for immigration enforcement purposes, including, but not limited to, any of the following:

(A) Inquiring into an individual’s immigration status.

(B) Detaining an individual on the basis of a hold request.

(C) Responding to requests for notification by providing release dates or other information unless that information is available to the public.

(D) Providing information regarding a person’s release date unless that information is available to the public.

(E) Providing personal information about an individual, including, but not limited to, the individual’s home address or work address unless that information is available to the public.

(F) Making arrests based on civil immigration warrants.

(G) Giving federal immigration authorities access to interview an individual in agency or department custody, except pursuant to a judicial warrant, and in accordance with Section 7283.1.

(H) Assisting federal immigration authorities in the activities described in Section 1357(a)(3) of Title 8 of the United States Code.

(I) Performing the functions of an immigration officer, whether pursuant to Section 1357(g) of Title 8 of the United States Code or any other law, regulation, or policy, whether formal or informal.

2. Make agency or department databases, including databases maintained for the agency or department by private vendors, or the information therein other than information regarding an individual’s citizenship or immigration status, available to anyone or any entity for the purpose of immigration enforcement. Any agreements in existence on the date that this chapter becomes operative that conflict with the terms of this paragraph are terminated on that date. A person or entity provided access to agency or department databases shall certify in writing that the database will not be used for the purposes prohibited by this section.

3. Place peace officers under the supervision of federal agencies or employ peace officers deputized as special federal officers or special federal deputies except to the extent those peace officers remain subject to California law governing conduct of peace officers and the policies of the employing agency.

4. Use federal immigration authorities as interpreters for law enforcement matters relating to individuals in agency or department custody.

5. Transfer an individual to federal immigration authorities unless authorized by a judicial warrant or for a violation of Section 1326(a) of Title 8 of the United States Code that is subject to the enhancement specified in Section 1326(b)(2) of Title 8 of the United States Code and the individual has been previously convicted of a violent felony listed in subdivision (c) of Section 667.5 of the Penal Code. This bill is in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

SB 257 (Lara)—School Admissions: Pupil Residency

Because of the pending policy of the Trump Administration on immigration and deportation, SB 257 would require that a person, otherwise eligible for admission to a class or school of a school district, whose parent or parents were residents of this state and have been deported, or voluntarily departed pursuant to a specified federal law, and who seeks admission to a class or school of a school district, be admitted by the governing board of the school district if that person meets specified requirements. The bill is in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

AB 699 (O’Donnell)—Educational Equity: Immigration Status

This bill would include immigration status in the specified characteristics of the rights afforded to all students in public schools. The bill would prohibit school officials and employees of a school district, county office of education, and charter schools except as required by state law, from collecting information or documents about the immigration status of pupils or their family members or allowing an officer or employee of United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to enter a school site without providing valid identification, a written statement of purpose, a valid judicial warrant or court order, and receiving approval from the superintendent of the school district, the superintendent of the county office of education, or the principal of the charter school, as applicable. This bill is in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

We will continue to monitor all of these bills and issues and keep you informed as the legislative session progresses.

Jeff Frost is CATESOL’s legislative advocate.



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