A r c h i v e d   I n f o r m a t i o n

Applying Federal Civil Rights Laws
to Public Charter Schools

Educating Students Who Are
Limited-English Proficient

A growing number of students in the public school population are national-origin minority students who are limited-English proficient (LEP). These children include recent immigrants to the United States, and other children raised with languages other than English. Generally, these children’s limited ability to speak, read, write, and understand English well enough to participate meaningfully is a barrier to their educational success. Federal civil rights law requires that public schools provide LEP children appropriate services designed to teach them English and the general curriculum.

20. What civil rights requirements apply if there are LEP students attending my charter school?

In Lau v. Nichols, the U.S. Supreme Court held that school districts must take affirmative steps to help LEP students overcome language barriers so that they can participate meaningfully in each school district’s programs. Under Title VI, public schools and LEAs must identify LEP students and provide them educational services so they can learn English-language skills and acquire the knowledge and skills in academic content areas that all students are required to know.

Public schools are not required to adopt any particular model of instruction for LEP students. However, where a program is necessary to ensure equal educational opportunity for LEP students, it must be based on a sound educational theory, adequately supported with qualified staff and adequate resources so that the program has a reasonable chance for success, and periodically evaluated and revised, if necessary.

21. Are there federal funds available to help me educate LEP students?

Yes. A wide variety of resources are available to help you serve your charter school’s LEP students. In addition to receiving general educational funds and state and local funds appropriated for the education of LEP students, LEAs may qualify for Federal financial assistance. For example, like any public school, your charter school might qualify for funds from Title I, Title VII, or other titles of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended. These grant funds may be used to supplement the services that the LEA is required to provide using state and local educational funds. Title I is administered by ED’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE). There are specific requirements that you must meet in order to receive Title I funds. Contact your SEA to find out if your charter school is eligible for these funds. LEAs may apply for Title VII funds from ED’s Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Languages Affairs (OBEMLA).

Your charter school might also join with other charter schools or work with LEAs to share qualified staff and other resources. Keep in mind that the obligation to educate LEP students is the same regardless of whether special funds or resources are available.

    Title I provides assistance to at-risk children in high-poverty schools. For further information on Title I, visit OESE’s World Wide Web site. Title VII helps LEAs meet their needs and objectives related to improving the instruction of LEP students. For further information on Title VII, visit OBEMLA’s Web site.

22. What must I do to make sure that limited-English proficient parents of students in my school are provided with information about school activities?

Like operators of other public schools, you must ensure that language-minority parents who are not proficient in English receive the same information provided to other parents, in a manner and form they understand. This may include information about their children’s program, progress, and disciplinary problems, as well as information about the school’s rules, policies, and activities. This information may have to be provided in a language other than English for parents who are not proficient in English.

    You may find assistance through real-time interpreting services, such as those provided by telecommunications companies.


[Selection of Facilities to Provide Access to Students with Disabilities]

[Educating Students with Disabilities]