In April 2013, Denver Public Schools began implementing a newly-revised and approved consent decree that will improve English language learner (ELL) instruction to better serve Denver’s students. The Federal District Court’s approval and entering of the consent decree, which reflects updates to the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974 and the English-Language Acquisition (ELA) Court Order, will support DPS’s commitment to continue to implement the strategies it has developed to improve its English Language Acquisition (ELA) program and meet updated requirements set forth by the U.S. District Court.
The Consent Decree specifically references charter schools in Chapter 8:
- The District shall ensure that all District schools, including charter schools, take appropriate action to overcome language barriers that impede meaningful and equal participation by all students enrolled in the District’s instructional programs. To that end, the ELA Department shall work collaboratively with the District’s Office of School Reform and Innovation to monitor the identification of, services for, and assessment of ELLs enrolled at District charter schools. The offices also shall work collaboratively to ensure that the District makes educational alternatives available to all ELLs, without regard to language proficiency level, by, among other things, providing notice of such alternatives to LEP parents in their native language. To the extent a charter school fails to meet its legal obligation to provide meaningful and appropriate language acquisition services, the District shall take steps to remedy the charter school’s ELA program deficiencies within a reasonable period of time.
- The District shall require all charter schools offering ELA services to identify a school administrator, or an administrator-designee, with ELA expertise to provide oversight and evaluate the effectiveness of ELA services provided by the school.
- The District shall not approve an application for a new or renewed charter that fails to propose an ELA Program reasonably designed to enable the District’s ELLs to overcome their language barriers in a reasonable period of time so that they can meaningfully and equally participate in the educational programs offered by the school.
To read the Consent Decree in full, click on the following links:
In addition to chapter 8 of the Consent Decree, Denver charter schools are responsible for fulfilling the ELA requirements of the Charter contract to provide students with the English language skills they need to meaningfully and equally participate in mainstream English learning instructional programs
The School shall implement a program for English Language Learner (ELL) students that uses efficient and effective techniques to provide ELL students with the English language skills they need to meaningfully and equally participate in the School’s mainstream English language instructional program. To satisfy the three-pronged test set forth in Castaneda v. Pickard (1981), the School must meet the needs of ELL students in several critical areas, as follows:
- The School shall follow the District’s procedures for identifying, assessing and exiting English language learners, consistent with state and federal law.
- The School is required to demonstrate evidence of an English language development block for all ELL students that uses research-based curriculum and resources specifically selected by the School for ELL students.
- The School shall provide Transitional Native Language Instruction (TNLI); or an equivalent in native language supports if it is serving a significant number of ELL students; or a program based on an educational theory recognized as sound by experts in the field or is considered by experts as a legitimate experimental strategy with the resources and personnel to implement this theory effectively;
- The School shall assess whether the program is being implemented with fidelity and conduct ongoing evaluation and adjustment of programs to ensure language barriers are actually being overcome.
- The School shall provide English Language Acquisition (ELA) program services by ELA teachers who are fully qualified based on acceptable evidence-based standards such as completion of the District’s ELA training program or a District approved training program as designed by the School, or possession of a current English as a second language certification. In addition, all teachers must be highly qualified pursuant to federal requirements.
The District and School will work collaboratively to ensure that the ELA program complies with state and federal law as well as any court order applicable to the District’s ELL programs, including the Consent Decree adopted by the US District Court in the case of Congress of Hispanic Educators v. DPS (1:95-DV-02313), in a manner that preserves the essential nature of the unique educational program of the School. If the School and the District disagree as to the correct interpretation or application of a statute or regulation concerning the education of English Language Learners, the District’s position will control.