DPS to provide language assistance to families

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — Dearborn Public Schools has until June 29 to develop and submit a plan to provide language assistance to limited English proficient parents and guardians for review and approval from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

The plan is a way to ensure that LEP parents have meaningful access to the school district’s programs and activities, according to the DPS resolution agreement between the district and the Office for Civil Rights.

The OCR review started more than four years ago when a report was made to OCR regarding a specific issue at a school in Dearborn, according to a press release. That complaint was not substantiated but OCR then began a review of all district procedures regarding communications with limited English speaking students and parents, according to the release.

DPS officials did not return phone calls seeking comment by press time.

Steps made to create a more inclusive language atmosphere for LEP parents include a written plan in which the school district staff may obtain in a timely manner appropriate, qualified translators or interpreters as needed, according to the resolution agreement, which states “this could include through the use of various services such as onsite translators/ interpreters, telephonic translators/ interpreters and effective translation programs.”

LEP parents also will be notified in a language they will understand via the school district’s website, student and parent handbooks and in any school districtwide or school-based newsletters.

The action steps also include the process of idenitfying LEP parents through home language surveys, among other formats of language inclusion.

DPS Supt. Brian Whiston said in the press release the plan was put in place to address all items requested by the Office of Civil Rights and DPS is committed to meeting the needs of all students and parents.

“We understand that many parents and students speak different languages,” Whiston said. “As we have done in the past, (we) will continue the commitment to meeting their needs so their children can be successful students.”

The press release said that for years the district has had several parent liaisons and other staff members who speak Arabic, along with translated school newsletters, parent letters, legal notices, and other documents that are necessary for good communications between school and home.

Part of the new plan is to translate additional documents, such as report cards, the release added.

The services have always been available at the request of parents but now the district will make sure that parents are informed that the services are accessible for their use, the release said.

Sixty days after the June 29 deadline the school district will submit to OCR documentation demonstrating adoption and implementation of the language assistance plan. The school district will also submit a copy of a signup sheet including the name and qualifications of the trainer and the materials used and passed out during the training, among other confirmation methods.

By June 29, 2013, the school district will submit to OCR documentation demonstrating the results of its evaluation of its implementation of the language-assistance plan during the 2012-13 school year; including any changes resulting from the evaluation.

The complete Resolution Agreement will be available online at www.dearbornschools.org.