Associated Press

Saturday, July 11, 1998

State Board Issues 'Flexible' Rules on Bilingual Education

SACRAMENTO -- The state Board of Education has approved temporary regulations to allow local school districts a "flexible interpretation" of Proposition 227, a measure that forbids leeway in its goal to eradicate bilingual education.

The rules approved Thursday retain local control of education and give districts freedom to adopt programs that fit their needs, said Bill Lucia, the board's executive director.

The school board gave parents some leeway under the waiver provision of Proposition 227. The measure, which passed June 2, requires that all students be taught in English.

While Proposition 227 required parents who wanted to keep their children in bilingual classes to provide evidence that the program benefits the child's education, the board's emergency rules appear to shift that burden to the schools.

The rules approved Thursday ensure schools will approve waivers unless they can provide "substantial evidence" the requested alternative program is not suitable for the child, the board said in a news release.

"It does sound like there might be a difference between that and what the initiative called for," Ron Unz, the software millionaire who authored Proposition 227, said yesterday.

Unz said he would reserve judgment until the board releases a copy of the emergency regulations. They were expected to be issued next week.

The rules go into effect Aug. 2 and expire 120 days later, meaning the board will have to approve permanent guidelines in the fall. The measure gave school districts 60 days to implement the policy, which essentially does away with California's 30-year-old bilingual education program.