Ensuring Meaningful Communication with Parents who have Limited English Proficiency

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Providing information in the parent’s language usually falls under the category of “Parent Participation.”

Links to Policy Documents

1.  Ensuring English Learner Students Can Participate Meaningfully and Equally in Educational Programs


Ensuring Meaningful Communication with Limited English Proficient Parents (page 4) “LEP parents are entitled to meaningful communication in a language they can understand, such as through translated materials or a language interpreter, and to adequate notice of information about any program, service, or activity that is called to the attention of non-LEP parents.”

Find “more information about the civil rights of LEP parents and guardians and districts’ specific obligations to parents of EL students.”

2. Information for Limited English Proficient (LEP) Parents and Guardians and
for Schools and School Districts that Communicate with Them


3. Important: Joint Guidance on English Language Learners (ELLs): Schools Must Act to Overcome Language Barriers (OSERS 01/07/15)


“Forty years ago, the Supreme Court of the United States determined that in order for public schools to comply with their legal obligations under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI), they must take affirmative steps to ensure that students with limited English proficiency (LEP) can meaningfully participate in their educational programs and services.1”

“This guidance provides an outline of the legal obligations of SEAs and school districts to EL students under the civil rights laws.7 Additionally, the guidance discusses compliance issues that frequently arise in OCR and DOJ investigations under Title VI and the EEOA and offers approaches that SEAs and school districts may use to meet their Federal obligations to EL students . . . Finally, the guidance discusses the Federal obligation to ensure that LEP parents and guardians have meaningful access to district and school-related information.”

page 10

“School districts must provide notices within thirty days from the beginning of the school year to all parents of EL students regarding the EL student’s identification and placement in a language instruction educational program. 29 School districts must, to the extent practicable, translate such notices in a language that the parent can understand. 30 If written translations are not practicable, school districts must offer LEP parents free oral interpretation of the written information.31
. . .

pages 37-39

“Proficient (LEP) parents are parents or guardians whose primary language is other than English and who have limited English proficiency in one of the four domains of language proficiency (speaking, listening, reading, or writing). School districts and SEAs have an obligation to ensure meaningful communication with LEP parents in a language they can understand and to adequately notify LEP parents of information about any program, service, or activity of a school district or SEA that is called to the attention of non-LEP parents.

. . .

“School districts must develop and implement a process for determining whether parents are LEP and what their language needs are. The process should be designed to identify all LEP parents, including parents or guardians of children who are proficient in English and parents and guardians whose primary language is not common in the district. For example, a school district may use a student registration form, such as a home language survey, to inquire whether a parent or guardian requires oral and/or written communication in a language other than English. The school’s initial inquiry should, of course, be translated into languages that are common in the school and surrounding community so that that the inquiry is designed to reach parents in a language they are likely to understand.

“SEAs and school districts must provide language assistance to LEP parents effectively with appropriate, competent staff – or appropriate and competent outside resources.103 It is not sufficient for the staff merely to be bilingual.”

“In addition to the general requirement under the civil rights laws described in the text, LEP parents are also entitled to translation and in interpretation of particular information under Titles I and III and the IDEA, as noted supra in Parts II. A, F.1, and G.”

4. Schools’ Civil Rights Obligations to English Learner Students and Limited English Proficient Parents


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