Councilmember Bonds' staff was excited to learn that we have modeled parts of our Language Access amendment on the Ban the Box legislation, which she championed, and we look forward to her support in improving language access across all of our communities in DC!
Position Statement on
The DC Language Access for Education Act of 2015
This document outlines DCLAC’s talking points with regard to the Language Access for Education Amendment Act of 2015. This document is consistent with DCLAC’s proposal regarding legislative modifications but also provides additional guidance for Coalition members regarding the reasoning in support of our positions and also proposals on which we will intentionally express “no opposition” without adopting those proposals on our own.
Goal 1: Increase transparency of complaint and corrective action process
- Mandating that all communications during the complaint process be conducted so that all parties to the complaint are involved (no ex parte communications)
- Making all findings of non-compliance and corrective actions, including the deadlines for agency compliance, publicly available and easily accessible on the websites of OHR and the appropriate agency on at least a quarterly basis.
Goal 2: Create enforcement mechanisms – hold agencies that violate the Language Access Act accountable in a timely manner and provide incentives for agencies to comply with the Act
- Fining agencies found to violate the LAA
-$4000 for agencies between size [to be determined] and [to be determined].
-$6000 for agencies size [to be determined] and larger.
- Mandating corrective actions to remedy the cause of the violation in the fastest reasonable time period, which should presumptively be not more than 60 days.
- Providing the right to file a second complaint for failure to comply with the corrective actions if they are not completed by the deadline set by OHR. OHR must act upon this second complaint within 15 days. If OHR finds that the agency failed to comply with the corrective actions they will impose a second fine to be paid to the person who filed the complaint, which will be double the amount of the first fine.
- Requiring agencies found to have repeated, similar violations within a 2-year period to pay a fine double that of the fine imposed for the first offense.
Goal 3: Make the person whose rights were violated “whole” – compensate for the damage incurred by the language access violation
- Paying 100% of fines imposed on agencies to the person who filed the complaint;
- Allowing OHR to impose additional fines on agencies at its discretion, to be paid directly to the complainant in especially egregious cases of language access violations imposing high degrees of harm on individuals denied language access; and,
- Allowing OHR to impose double fines in cases of repeated noncompliance.
Goal 4: Provide incentives for people to file complaints when their rights are violated
- Keeping the OHR process simple and straightforward, especially for complainants without an attorney;
- Providing 100% of fines imposed on agencies to the person who filed the complaint;
- Providing the opportunity for a person filing a complaint to participate in establishing corrective actions if OHR finds a violation of the LAA; and,
- Providing for double fines in cases of repeated noncompliance.
Goal 5: Provide greater resources for English Language Learner students and families and improve enforcement of Language Access requirements in DC Public Schools and DC Public Charter Schools
- Appointing a Language Access Liaison position for individual schools. This person would coordinate interpretation and translation requests within the school, trainings for school staff, and serve as an entry point for newcomer students and families;
- Placing a Language Access Liaison, Bilingual Desk Staff, Counselor and Teacher in schools whose population of ELL students or LEP/NEP families meet a 3% threshold;
- Ensure that school staff are receiving necessary training for working with ELL students and their families; and
- Providing a list of vital documents for students and families that must be translated.
In addition, DCLAC is not opposed to the following proposal(s) we understand have been advanced by others:
- Allowing OHR to become an independent agency so that the director will not be appointed by the mayor.