Students who are multilingual learners and their parents/guardians are protected under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance, including public schools. The landmark US Supreme Court case Lau v. Nichols served to confirm that Title VI guarantees students multilingual learners who are not yet proficient in English to equitable and meaningful access to their education. Maine SAUs are required to have a board-approved Lau Plan that describes how they uphold the civil rights of multilingual learners and their families.
Legal Rights of Students who are English Learners (Multilingual Learners): Presented by April Perkins, ESOL & Bilingual Programs Specialist, and Sarah Forster, Assistant Attorney General, October 20, 2020
Dear Colleague Letter: English Learner Students & Limited English Proficient Parents: US Department of Education (Office for Civil Rights) and Department of Justice, January 7, 2015
Information for Limited English Proficient (LEP) Parents and Guardians and for Schools and School Districts that Communicate with Them: US Department of Education (Office for Civil Rights) and Department of Justice, January 2015
Dear Colleague Letter: School Enrollment Procedures (Plyler v. Doe): US Department of Education (Office for Civil Rights), May 8, 2014
All Maine SAUs are required to have a board-approved Lau Plan. In order to support SAUs in meeting this requirement, the Department has created the following resources. Contact Jane Armstrong at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional support.
Addressing Complaints of Discrimination
The Maine Department of Education would like to clarify the process for addressing complaints of discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000d et seq. requires that schools communicate with families in their primary language as much as possible regarding academic, extracurricular, and family engagement activities. Schools are also required to provide students who are multilingual learners (MLs) with an effective language support program that:
- is evidence-based;
- is regularly evaluated and modified as needed;
- enables MLs to meaningfully access grade-level curricula while acquiring English;
- is designed and implemented by qualified, ESOL-endorsed staff;
- does not unnecessarily separate MLs from their non-ML peers;
- does not place MLs in a facility below the standard provided to their non-ML peers; and
- does not provide MLs with educational materials below the standard provided to their non-ML peers.
The US Department of Justice and the US Department of Education have issued guidance for schools and families regarding Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Requirements for schools to provide translation/interpretation are described in this notice: Information for Limited English Proficient (LEP) Parents and Guardians and for Schools and School Districts that Communicate with Them. The January 7, 2015 Dear Colleague Letter outlines an ML’s educational rights.
To file a discrimination complaint, contact the United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights. A complaint may be submitted online or by downloading the complaint form and submitting it by mail or email. For more information and access to the online form and pdf, go to https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/complaintintro.html.