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Agreement Reached in Language Access Case

Together with the Education Law Center and Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, we reached an agreement to dismiss a decades-long case to ensure parents and students have access to interpretation and translation services.

In 1985, the Education Law Center filed a class action lawsuitY.S. v. School District of Philadelphia, No. C.A. 85-6924 (E.D. Pa. 1985) on behalf of Asian students, challenging the District’s failure to provide appropriate services and to ensure that parents with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) and English Language Learner (ELL) students gained equal access to educational opportunities and services. The case resulted in a comprehensive consent decree that led to a variety of increased support services and programs for ELL students.

In April 2013, we sought to re-open the case, citing, among other issues, the District’s failure to provide translation and interpretation services during Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings. Following negotiations and review of District data, the parties have now reached an agreement and Stipulation of Dismissal which has been approved by the federal court. This ends the Y.S. litigation while ensuring the continuation of critical services and programs created as a result of the lawsuit and specifically leaves the door open for the filing of a new lawsuit.

The District has agreed to continue the following services: maintenance of the Office of Multicultural Curriculum and Programs; assistance for families to access programs of ESOL or bilingual instruction; access to support services; comprehensible instruction and modifications to curricula; the continued operation of the Translation and Interpretation Center; and disclosure of public data concerning the performance of ELL students as measured on School District and state assessments.

The Education Law Center and the Public Interest Law Center will continue to monitor the District’s compliance with federal laws and may file a new case in the future to ensure that ELL students receive the translation and interpretation services and other supports to which they are legally entitled to ensure equal access to a quality education. ELL students and parents of Limited English Proficiency whose children have disabilities and receive ELL services have special rights to language assistance pursuant to special education laws. We are willing to represent families who need improved language access and better special education services. You can reach us at (215) 627-7100 or ELC at (215) 238-6970.

 

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