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Schools win round in court: Suit alleges state English testing violates U.S. law

Christine Mahr

For a second time, a judge has ruled against the state in a lawsuit over the testing of English-learners, clearing the way for the action to proceed through the courts.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ronald Quidachay denied the state's request to dismiss the lawsuit, filed in June by the Coachella Valley Unified School District, 10 other school districts and three statewide organizations.

They allege the state is violating the federal No Child Left Behind Act and the state Constitution's guarantee of equal protection by testing California's 1.6 million English-learners only in English before they are proficient in the language, and then counting their scores for accountability purposes.

Clear to go forward
"The significance of the ruling is that it ends the procedural games," said Marc Coleman, an attorney with one of three firms representing the plaintiffs. "Both the federal and state courts have said the case should proceed as written on the merits."

Attorneys for those named in the suit - the state, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the California Department of Education, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, the state Board of Education and its individual members - had transferred the case earlier to federal court to get it heard there. But a federal judge sent it back to California.

School districts and organizations that, along with the Coachella Valley Unified School District, sued the state over the testing of English-learners are:

#Alisal Union Elementary School District, Monterey County
# Chula Vista Elementary School District, San Diego County
# Hawthorne Elementary School District, Los Angeles County
# Hayward Unified School District, Alameda County
# Oxnard Elementary School District, Ventura County
# Pajaro Valley Unified School District, Santa Cruz County
# Salinas Union High School District, Monterey County
# Sweetwater Union High School District, San Diego County
# Terra Bella Union Elementary School District, Tulare County
# San Ysidro Unified School District, San Diego County

California Association for Bilingual Education, an organization of teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals and parents

Californians Together, a statewide coalition of parents, teachers, education advocates and civil rights groups

California LULAC, a state affiliate of the national League of Latin American Citizens, a Hispanic civil rights group.

— Christine Mahr
The Desert Sun


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