Associated Press

Friday, October 16, 1998

Groups Say Parents Intimidated When Seeking Bilingual Waivers

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Teacher groups opposed to Proposition 227 charged that schools are discouraging parents from seeking waivers that would entitle their children to continue bilingual education.

More than 50 parents contacted the groups -- On Campus and the Civil Rights in Public Education Network -- to say they had been intimidated while trying to obtain waivers in the Los Angeles Unified School District, the groups said at a Thursday news conference.

One school called parents who signed waivers and questioned them until they rescinded their requests, one speaker said.

Proposition 227, which voters approved in June, bans schools from teaching non English speakers in their native language but allows parents to seek waivers.

LAUSD spokeswoman Socorro Serrano said the groups should have contacted the district about parents' complaints.

"We realize that some schools are doing a much better job of disseminating that information than others, and every time we have been notified that a parent feels confused and concerned, we've responded," Serrano said.

Steve Zimmer, an On Campus organizer, said he has heard from dozens of parents who were told that their children could be sent to another school if they requested waivers.

"These statements, whether from office managers, coordinators or administrators, directly violate the district's stated policies on elementary implementation of Proposition 227," Zimmer said.

Serrano said district employees told parents the truth: Classes with fewer than 20 children who request a waiver may end up having to go to another school to continue bilingual education.

In Orange County, most of the county's 25 districts report that they haven't received any waiver requests.

Santa Ana Unified School District, where students are predominantly Hispanic, has received about 2,000 requests for waivers, and Placentia-Yorba Linda has received about 800 requests. A handful of districts have received less than a dozen requests.

Administrators said they expect more as all cycles of year-round schools complete the first 30 days of English immersion, a requirement before parents can seek waivers.