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About the ESL Program 

Legal Bases for ESL Services in North Carolina Public Schools

Lau v. Nichols: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that school districts have a duty to see that students are not discriminated against because they do not speak English. There is no equality of treatment merely by providing students with the same facilities, texts, and curriculum for students who do not understand English are effectively foreclosed from any meaningful education. Basic English skills are at the heart of what these schools teach. Imposition of a requirement that before a child can effectively participate in the educational program he must have already acquired those basic skills is to make a mockery of public education. We know that those who do not understand English are certain to find their classroom experiences wholly incomprehensible and in no way meaningful (U.S. Supreme Court, 414 U.S. 563).

Plyler v. Doe: The U.S. Supreme Court held that Texas law allowing local education agencies to deny enrollment to undocumented children was unconstitutional based on the equal protection provision of the 14th Amendment of the U.S.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Title VI prohibits discrimination on the grounds of race, color, or national origin by recipients of federal financial assistance. The Title VI regulatory requirements have been interpreted to prohibit denial of equal access to education because of a language minority student’s limited proficiency in English.

Title VII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA): The Bilingual Education Act, Title VII of the ESEA, recognizes the unique educational disadvantages faced by non-English speaking students. Enacted in 1968, the Bilingual Education Act established a federal policy to assist educational agencies to serve students with limited-English-proficient students, Title VII also supports professional development and research activities. Reauthorized in 1994 as part of the Improving America’s Schools Act, Title VII was restructured to provide for an increased state role and give priority to applicants seeking to develop bilingual proficiency. The Improving America’s Schools Act also modified eligibility requirements for services under Title I so that limited-English-proficient students are eligible for services under that program on the same basis as other students. 


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