Here’s what you need to know:
- TransACT requested a legal opinion from its law firm (Brustein & Manasevit) to determine if specific documents in the TransACT collection were in conflict with the new January 7, 2015 guidance from USED and DOJ.
- As a result of the legal opinion, two notices, Important Information: Please Read and Important Information: Please Complete, had instructions to parents that could conflict with the new USED and DOJ guidance.
- TransACT has temporarily removed these two notices (and translations) from its parent notice collections. The TransACT team is in the process of creating replacement notices that will meet the new USED and DOJ requirements.
On January 7, 2015 the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division issued joint guidance, two factsheets, and a toolkit related to serving English Learners (ELs). One factsheet specifically addresses one of the ten common civil rights issues identified in the guidance. It is described as being “about schools’ obligations under federal law to communicate information to limited English proficient parents in a language they can understand.” (http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/dcl-factsheet-lep-parents-201501.pdf).
It is significant that of the ten common civil rights issues related to ELs and their parents identified in the joint guidance, these two agencies chose this one issue, communicating with parents in a language they understand, as worthy of its own fact sheet. With this in mind, TransACT has been reviewing its parent notifications in light of this new guidance and factsheet.
Our internal review of our TransACT Parent Notices and the new guidance led us to solicit a legal opinion from Brustein & Manasevit to determine if they were still allowable for schools and districts to distribute to parents. Two notices, Important Information: Please Read and Important Information: Please Complete included language that needed to be updated.
These notices were originally created based on language in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act as Amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 which states that districts and schools are required to provide information to parents “to the extent practicable” in a language they can understand. These notices were created to use with less common languages where it was not “practicable” to provide translation/interpretation.
The legal review we received concluded that, based on the factsheet (note the third question), the new guidance (page 38), and a review of recent OCR resolution agreements, “TransACT’s notices that instruct parents to ‘have someone help them’ read and respond to the notices will likely lead to compliance findings.” With this in mind, TransACT has removed these notices from its parent notice collections and is in the process of creating new notices to replace these that will meet all compliance requirements.
If you have any questions, please contact us at 425.977.2100 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We appreciate your understanding while we create and translate these new notices. Existing subscribers will be notified when the new notices are available. All edits will be provided to existing subscribing customers without additional cost.