Hartford Public Schools to Improve Services for ELL Students

Mar 27, 2013

Hartford Public Schools have signed an agreement with federal education authorities to improve supports and services for students who are English Language Learners.  

A complaint was filed with U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in 2007 on behalf of Somali-Bantu, Liberian and Spanish-speaking students in the Hartford Public Schools.   

"Students did not have appropriate amounts of supports, accommodations and services so they could understand what was being asked of them."

Stacey Violante Cote is an attorney with the Center for Children’s Advocacy which filed the complaint.

"The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights did some on site interviews and investigations and uncovered some concerns and violations, " 

...Including students being used as interpreters, inadequate resources for bilingual students, and the broader question of whether Hartford had enough teachers and support staff to provide these students with equal access to educational opportunities.

Violante Cote says this agreement puts Connecticut school districts on notice that federal authorities will enforce the law.

"We have a comprehensive outline of the minimum requirements for the school district to provide everything from identifying these students and placing them in appropriate levels to the provision of the actual education services to the provision of support services."

Under the agreement, the U.S. Department of Education will monitor the city’s progress for two years.

In a statement Hartford Public Schools say the complaint was filed before the district’s strategic reform efforts began, and the district will continue to develop an ELL program to ensure the academic success of their students.

For WNPR, I’m Diane Orson.