Feds open civil rights investigation of PPS

7:50 am

The Sentinel reports today that the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has opened an investigation of Portland Public Schools based on the complaint of Marta Guembes on behalf of limited-English proficiency (LEP) students at Madison, Marshall and Roosevelt.

In a letter to superintendent Carole Smith dated July 15, 2008, the OCR notifies PPS that it is under investigation for violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, specifically for:

  1. failing to provide LEP students the services necessary to ensure an equal opportunity to participate effectively in the district’s educational program; and
  2. failing to provide information in an effective manner to the parents of LEP students concerning their children and school programs and activities.

The choice of schools is illustrative of the segregation that reflects the concentration of immigrant populations in schools that form an outer ring in Portland, exacerbated by high out-transfer rates of white, middle class students to schools in whiter, more affluent neighborhoods.

Marshall, in outer southeast, is 22.9% English language learners (ELL), Roosevelt, in north, is 19.1% ELL, and Madison, in outer northeast, is 14% ELL.

Of the other high schools in Portland, only Franklin has more than 10% ELL (10.2%). Jefferson is 8.6%, Benson 5%, Cleveland 4.1%, Wilson 3.4% and Lincoln 1.2%.

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Steve Rawley published PPS Equity from 2008 to 2010, when he moved his family out of the district.

filed under: ELL/LEP, Equity, High Schools, Madison High, Marshall High, Roosevelt High, Segregation, Transfer Policy

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3 Responses

  1. Comment from Zarwen:

    Does anyone think this investigation will end with anything greater than a slap on the wrist?

    Forgive me for being cynical. I am not really familiar with how the feds run these investigations. But I seem to remember some widespread dissatisfaction with the investigation into some federal grant money that went missing from Ockley Green.

    Also, there was a state investigation some years ago into some misspent bond money. End result? Slap on the wrist. Which is why I don’t expect anything more.

  2. Comment from ESL Teacher:

    Why are only three high schools named? All ESL students at the high school level have suffered violations of their basic civil right to a basic education.

  3. Pingback from Willamette Week | Tuesday, August 12th, 2008:

    [...] first reported in The Sentinel (and amplified by the blog ppsequity.org), the Office for Civil Rights has opened an investigation of the [...]