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L.A. Faces Bilingual Education Suit

July 31, 1998

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The nation’s second-largest school district is fighting a last-ditch effort by civil rights organizations to halt implementation of a voter-approved law banning bilingual education.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed a lawsuit Thursday on behalf of the district’s 312,000 students with limited English proficiency.

The suit claims a program adopted by the Los Angeles Unified School District to comply with Proposition 227, the California initiative dismantling bilingual education, violates a 1974 federal law by failing to meet children’s educational needs.

The civil rights groups argue teachers haven’t been trained and assessment criteria have yet to be fully developed under the new plan.

``We’re just very concerned about ensuring that immigrant children are not subjected to educational harm with any program that is not adequately developed,″ ACLU attorney Rocio Cordoba said.

U.S. District Judge Lourdes Baird scheduled a hearing today to consider the organizations’ request for a temporary restraining order to bar school officials from putting the new program into place next Monday.

Attorneys for the district filed court documents opposing the restraining order, saying it posed ``serious disruption″ and ``potentially significant harm″ to the kids.

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