Modesto City School Board’s Approval of Local Control Accountability Plan Fails Some Students

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 
June 24, 2014

Contact:
Ubaldo Fernandez, CRLA Staff Attorney
209-577-3811 / ufernandez@crla.org

Modesto City Schools Board’s Approval of Local Control Accountability Plan Fails Some Students

Modesto, CA - California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc (CRLA) expressed disappointment with the Modesto City Schools Board’s recent approval of the district’s Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) in a June 24, 2014 letter to the Stanislaus County Office of Education and requested that the County Office of Education send the plan back to the District for revision. Mandated by the new California education funding system passed last year, the LCAP is supposed to document how the District will spend an additional $25.5 million of state funds in 2014-15, and the additional funding to be allocated for the next three years. Under the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) the district receives additional funds above the base grant for student services and these funds are meant to be used to “increase or improve” services for certain student groups, including English Learners. Under the LCFF statute, districts are also required to meaningfully involve parents in planning the expenditure of these additional funds and are required to create specific goals for English Learners. CRLA told the County Office of Education that Modesto City Schools’ LCAP fails on all counts and jeopardizes the district’s ability to close the achievement gap between English learners and other students.

Modesto City Schools has not given parent groups an opportunity to meaningfully participate in the planning for the expenditure LCFF funds. In fact, the plan approved by Modesto City Schools was never presented to the District English Learner Advisory Council, a parent advisory group, as required by law. Instead, the District presented a condensed plan, without any specific actions the district would take to improve services for English Learners, and without any itemized expenditures. The plan the board voted on was released to the public less than six days prior to the vote. “This is not adequate parental involvement, and certainly is not designed to ensure that parents have a voice in how to spend the additional money generated for their children,” said Felipe Alvarez, a member of Padres de la Academia Dual de Fairview, a parent group represented by CRLA.

Parents of English Learners have called on the district to use the additional funds to increase and improve the very limited services available to English Learners. In recent years, Modesto City Schools has eliminated Transitional Bilingual Education programs over the objection of parents whose children have subsequently struggled in classes taught only in English. Parents of English Learners enrolled at the Fairview Dual Language Academy have strongly opposed the district’s surprising elimination of the Dual Language Academy at Fairview Elementary School. Despite additional state funding for service for English Learners, and strong opposition to the action by parents voiced through the Local Control Funding Formula process, the District will not be offering the Dual Language Academy at Fairview Elementary after the 2014-2015 school year.

Modesto City Schools’ Local Control Accountability Plan is now before the Stanislaus County Office of Education for approval. “CRLA is asking the Stanislaus County Office of Education to exercise the oversight authority given it under the LCFF to ensure that Districts, like Modesto City Schools meet the legal requirement that additional funding be used to increase or improve services for English Learners, and parents be meaningfully involved. Approval of Modesto City Schools’ plan would be a further violation of the law,” said Ubaldo Fernandez, Staff Attorney at CRLA’s Modesto office.

About California Rural Legal Assistance:
Founded in 1966, CRLA’s mission is to fight for justice and individual rights alongside the most exploited communities of our society. Through a network of regional offices and cross-cutting programs, CRLA provides legal services to over 32,000 low-income people annually. Our work impacts farmworkers, individuals with disabilities, immigrant populations, LGBT communities, women, children and families in rural areas.


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