Orange County Register

Friday, September 4, 1998

2 Schools Get Prop. 227 Waivers
EDUCATION: Dual immersion language programs will remain.

Two Orange County schools became the first in the state to be granted waivers from the English-only provisions of Proposition 227 when state schools Superintendent Delaine Eastin on Thursday approved dual immersion programs at Gates Elementary in Lake Forest and Las Palmas Elementary in San Clemente.

In dual immersion programs, students are taught in both English and Spanish. At Gates and Las Palmas, for instance, instruction is 90 percent in Spanish in kindergarten and first grade, with more English time added each subsequent year.

Henry Der, deputy schools superintendent, said Gates and Las Palmas qualified for the waivers by applying as "alternative schools within a school."

"All of the students and teachers participate on a voluntary basis," Der said. "These alternative programs teach English to all students, including those who are English learners."

Eastin was also impressed by the nearly 400 parents, students, teachers and administrators who attended an August meeting in Aliso Viejo to beg her to save the programs, Der said.

"This shows others think our program is sound academically," said Marcia Lacko, parent of a Gates fifth-grader. "We needed (Eastin) to know that we had a right to choose."

Prop. 227, approved by 61 percent of California voters in June, requires instruction to be overwhelmingly in English.

Fourteen other schools statewide have requested general waivers, which fall under the state Board of Education's purview and will be considered Sept. 10.