Associated Press

Friday, June 12, 1998

Hearing Set on Prop. 227 Suit

SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal judge has scheduled a hearing July 15 on a lawsuit by civil rights groups to block Proposition 227, the initiative that would virtually end bilingual education in California.

The lawsuit was filed June 3, the day after the measure was approved by 61 percent of the voters. It would abolish a program that allows 1.4 million public school students to be taught in their native languages as a transition to English, and instead provide a one-year English immersion class. Limited, short-term bilingual instruction would be allowed locally at the request of a group of parents.

The lawsuit contends Proposition 227 violates a federal law that requires schools to take ``appropriate action to overcome language barriers.'' It also claims the measure discriminates against students based on their national origin.

Supporters of the measure say there is no legal right to bilingual education. Sponsor Ron Unz, a Redwood City businessman, says he is confident it will be upheld.

The initiative is scheduled to take effect 60 days after passage. The preliminary injunction, sought by plaintiffs in papers filed Wednesday, would block implementation until the suit went to trial.

It will be heard by U.S. District Judge Charles Legge.