On January 7, 2015, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice released a joint guidance document that outlines the legal responsibilities of state and local education agencies (SEAs and LEAs) for English learner (EL) students and limited English proficient (LEP) parents. The purpose of this guidance document is to “assist SEAs, school districts, and all public schools in meeting their legal obligations to ensure that EL students can participate meaningfully and equally in educational programs and services” (p. 2). For additional materials, including fact sheets, guidance, and translated versions, visit the Office of Civil Rights website.
This document provides a significant source of information for education agencies at various levels to help them clearly understand how to comply with current legislation related to ELs. It is also a great resource for EL students and their parents to help them understand their education rights.
Note that this Dear Colleague Letter "has not been updated because the federal civil rights laws are independent of the ESEA. The civil rights laws denote parallel requirements for SEAs and LEAs to meet their legal obligations to ensure that ELs can participate meaningfully and equally in educational programs and services, regardless of reauthorization or of changes to ESEA. While ESSA requires reauthorization, the federal civil rights laws do not" (Footnote 1, p. iii, from the English Learner Took Kit).