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Legal Provisions for the Education of English Language Learners

Federal Legislation

Court Decisions

  • Lau vs. Nichols (1974) ruled that providing the same access to curriculum, instruction, and materials for students of limited English proficiency as is provided to English dominant students is not in effect equitable: 

  • Plyler vs. Doe (1981) ruled that all students in public schools must be appropriately served, including any students who may not be documented as legal immigrants:

  • Castañeda vs. Pickard (1981) case precedent requires schools to use a three-pronged approach to assure that they are following the spirit of the above decisions vis-à-vis: a practice grounded in sound educational theory; effective implementation of an appropriate program; assurance that the program is working through an evaluation and subsequent program modification to meet this requirement. only) (Compliance Policy of Santee, CA, with Castañeda)

  • Office of Civil Rights Policy Update on Schools' Obligations Toward National Origin Minority Students With Limited English Proficiency (1991) adopted the three prongs of Castañeda above, required that all language minority students be assessed for fluency, that parents be provided school information in a language they understand, and that schools assure that instruction to limited English proficient students is carried out by qualified staff. 

  • Executive Order 13166: Improving Access to Services for Persons With Limited English Proficiency (2000) (full text)