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Education, Language, and Civil Rights

This article provides information on how a school must interact with parents with limited English proficiency. This article was written by the United States Department of Education. 

Must my child’s school provide information to me in a language I can understand?

Yes. Schools must communicate information to limited English proficient parents in a language they can understand about any program, service, or activity that is called to the attention of parents who are proficient in English.

This includes, but is not limited to, information related to:

  • registration and enrollment in school and school programs
  • grievance procedures and notices of nondiscrimination
  • language assistance programs
  • parent handbooks
  • report cards
  • gifted and talented programs
  • student discipline policies and procedures
  • magnet and charter schools
  • special education and related services, and meetings to discuss special education
  • parent-teacher conferences
  • requests for parent permission for student participation in school activities

 

Must a school provide language assistance if I request it even if my child is proficient in English and I am somewhat proficient in English?

Yes. Schools must respond to a parent’s request for language assistance and remember that parents can be limited English proficient even if their child is proficient in English.

 

May my child’s school ask my child, other students, or untrained school staff to translate or interpret for me?

No. Schools must provide translation or interpretation from appropriate and competent individuals and may not rely on or ask students, siblings, friends, or untrained school staff to translate or interpret for parents.

 

What information should I expect from the school if my child is an English learner?

When your child enrolls, you should receive a home language survey or similar form to fill out that helps the school identify potential English learners who are eligible for language assistance services. If your child is identified as an English learner, the school must notify you in writing within 30 days of the school year starting with information about your child’s English language proficiency level, programs and services available to meet your child’s educational needs, and your right to opt your child out of a program or particular services for English learners. For more information about the rights of English learners, see Ensuring English Learner Students Can Participate Meaningfully and Equally in Educational Programs.

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