San Francisco Chronicle

Friday, July 17, 1998

Rojas Responds

Editor -- I believe it is critical to clarify the San Francisco Unified School District's response to the court's refusal to grant an injunction in the Proposition 227 case. Your July 16 front-page article, ``Prop. 227 Upheld by U.S. Judge,'' could be easily misread by the public. The actions of the district concerning bilingual education are fully in compliance with the law, yet we are repeatedly portrayed as ``defiant.'' SFUSD is in compliance with the U.S. District Court consent decree in the Lau case.

Contrary to the impression left by the article, please be advised that SFUSD will continue to offer all of its current programs for English language learners as mandated by a federal judge as a result of the Lau case, which SFUSD originally lost in the United States Supreme Court 24 years ago. Compliance is monitored by the plaintiffs and the District Bilingual Advisory Committee. Reports are annually filed with the court and served on the plaintiffs and the U.S. Department of Justice. In addition, the programs of SFUSD meet the standards set forth in the Castaneda vs. Pickard case.

Although I continue to believe Proposition 227 has major flaws, any child in SFUSD who wishes ``structured'' or ``sheltered'' English immersion in accordance with its terms will be granted that opportunity. Due to the Lau order, however, SFUSD cannot legally eliminate its other programs. Thus, SFUSD is compliant -- not defiant -- with the law. Elimination of its court-ordered programs would subject SFUSD to court-imposed sanctions.

I believe accuracy and context is critical in reporting information to the public, especially in an area as highly charged as instruction for English language learners.

Superintendent of Schools
San Francisco

(Editor's Note: The Chronicle stands by its story.)