U.S. Dept. of Education Opens Investigation Against Paso Robles School District for Discriminatory Treatment of Latinx and Limited English Proficient Parents
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 2, 2021
Sam Lew, 415-272-8022, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area
PASO ROBLES – The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District on the grounds of discrimination against Latinx and Limited English Proficient (LEP) parents and community members.
The Office for Civil Rights will examine allegations of discriminatory treatment of Latinx and Limited English Proficient (LEP) parents and community members for being barred from meaningful participation in school board meetings due to the District’s failure to provide qualified, trained interpreters at meetings in a district where 35% of all students come from homes where Spanish is the primary language.
Without interpretation services, LEP parents and community members could not participate in a school board advisory committee on school closures. The advisory committee has now recommended the closure of Georgia Brown Elementary School, the school with the largest percentage of Latinx students in the district, where nearly three-fourths of its student population are Latinx.
“The school district’s deliberate negligence and purpose-driven pain towards the Latinx community in Paso Robles should not be ignored, whether it’s their failing to provide Spanish language committee forms or their desire to place profits over people in their closure of Georgia Brown Elementary school site—a school in a majority minority district,” said Yessenia Echevarria, co-founder of Paso People’s Action. “The damage they’ve caused will have long-term impacts on the community and affect everything from educational equity to political participation.”
The investigation was opened as a response to a complaint filed by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area and California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. on behalf of Paso People’s Action.
The complaint urges the school district to develop an advisory committee on school closures where all parents are able to participate, with proper language accessibility, and engage in a decision making process that includes the Spanish-speaking parents of students enrolled in the district.
“The exclusion of Latinx and Limited English Proficient parents and community members from participating in school board meetings is a blatant violation of civil rights, particularly in a school district where Latinx students make up more than 56% of the total enrollment,” said Deborah Escobedo, Senior Racial Justice Attorney at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. “Title VI prohibits school districts from denying anyone—regardless of their race, color, or national origin—the opportunity to participate as a member of an advisory body, yet the School District continues to breach the law.”
“Everyone should have an equal opportunity to get an education in this country. All parents should have an equal voice in the education of their children. These are the promises of our civil rights laws. By denying Latinx parents the opportunity to participate in its advisory committee and by not providing adequate interpretation services at its board meetings, the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District violated these laws, silenced its community members, and engaged in unlawful discrimination,” said Frank Kopcinski, Directing Attorney of California Rural Legal Assistance’s San Luis Obispo Office.
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area (LCCRSF)
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, founded in 1968, works to advance, protect and promote the legal rights of communities of color, low-income persons, immigrants and refugees. Assisted by hundreds of pro bono attorneys, LCCRSF provides free legal assistance and representation to individuals on civil legal matters through direct services, impact litigation and policy advocacy. For more information, please visit www.lccrsf.org.
California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. (CRLA)
California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. (CRLA) was founded in 1966 to be a world-class nonprofit law firm for those who cannot afford to pay a private attorney. Through 17 offices statewide, we provide free legal services and education to tens of thousands of low-income California residents each year and litigate cases that benefit even more people. We help our clients get fair pay for their hard work, find and stay in safe housing, access healthcare, ensure quality education for their kids, and more. Our vision is a rural California where all people are treated with dignity and respect and guaranteed their fundamental rights. For more information, please visit www.crla.org.