Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VI
“No person in the United States shall, on the grounds of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
May 25, 1970 Memorandum (Department of Health, Education, and Welfare)
“Where the inability to speak and understand the English language excludes national origin-minority group children from effective participation in the educational program offered by a school district, the district must take affirmative steps to rectify the language deficiency in order to open its instructional program to these students.”
Equal Educational Opportunities Act, 1974
“No state shall deny educational opportunity to an individual on account of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, by… the failure by an educational agency to take appropriate action to overcome language barriers that impede equal participation by its students in its instructional programs.”
Lau v. Nichols, 1974 (U.S. Supreme Court)
“There is no equality of treatment merely by providing students with the same facilities, textbooks, teachers, and curriculum; for students who do not understand English are effectively foreclosed from any meaningful education.” The decision also stated that there must be a policy in place to educate Limited English Proficient (LEP) students. This policy/plan is referred to as a “Lau plan.”
Castañeda v. Pickard, 1981 (5th Circuit Court)
“The court’s decision states that the burden of proof is upon the district that the instructional program designed for a LEP student has clearly developed English language skills of comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing necessary for learning and achieving in English-only instruction at a level substantially equivalent to pupils whose primary language is English.”
Plyler v. Doe, 1982
In 1982, the Supreme Court ruled in Plyler v. Doe that public schools were prohibited from denying immigrant students access to a free public education. The Court stated that undocumented children have the same right to a free public education as U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Undocumented immigrant students are obligated, as are all other students, to attend school until they reach the age mandated by state law. Public schools and school personnel are prohibited under Plyler v. Doe from adopting policies or taking actions that would deny students access to education based on their immigration status (Willshire Carrera, 1992).
Connecticut Bilingual Statute
Any public school within a local or regional school in a CT school district with twenty or more eligible students classified as dominant in any one language other than English, the board of education of such district shall provide a program of bilingual education for such eligible students for the following school year.