Justice Department Secures Agreement with Massachusetts School District to Ensure Equal Educational Opportunities for All Students, Including K’iche’ Speakers

The Justice Department today announced a settlement agreement with New Bedford Public Schools to resolve the department’s investigation into the school district’s practices for communicating with limited English proficient parents and guardians, including speakers of K’iche’, an Indigenous Mayan language. 

Among other steps, the district will implement effective measures to correctly identify the languages spoken by students, as well as parents and guardians, so that school staff do not assume K’iche’ speakers are native Spanish speakers based on their country of origin. The district has also agreed to improve its practices and professional development to address the specific needs of English learner students who speak K’iche’ so that they can access the same educational opportunities as other students in the district. 

“Students and families from Indigenous Maya communities often face unique barriers to accessing educational opportunities,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This comprehensive agreement ensures that the district recognizes and addresses the needs of its substantial population of K’iche’-speaking students, and empowers parents to participate fully in their children’s education. The Civil Rights Division is committed to protecting every child’s right to equally participate in school.”  

The agreement results from the department’s investigation under the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974, opened in 2020. The district cooperated at every stage of the investigation and committed to improving its programs through revised practices and professional development. The Justice Department will monitor the district’s implementation of the settlement agreement for at least three full school years to ensure that the district complies with its obligations.

The enforcement of the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974 is a top priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt. View the Spanish translation of this press release here.

Play audio in K’iche’ below:

Translation in K’iche’

Official news published at https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-secures-agreement-massachusetts-school-district-ensure-equal-educational

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