A 2008 federal court decision that ordered the state to restructure its bilingual and English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) programs was overturned by the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans today.
“The evidence in the case showed that middle and high school ELL (English Language Learner) students are failing across the state and the Texas Education Agency has done virtually nothing to ensure these students are learning English," said David Hinojosa, an attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). "But the door remains open for us to present further evidence supporting the civil rights violations and we intend to do just that."
Tuesday’s decision sends the case back to the lower court after a request by state officials to dismiss the suit altogether was denied.
According to MALDEF officials, the appeals court decided the "cause for the failure needed to be explored further on remand because the local school districts, rather than the State, could have caused the failure."
In 2006 MALDEF and the Multicultural Education, Training and Advocacy, Inc. (META) argued on behalf of the G.I. Forum and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) that “TEA’s secondary English as a Second Language (ESL) program had failed and that its monitoring program had masked the failure in the secondary schools,” cites a press release on the MALDEF’s Web site.
The lower courts agreed and a brief victory was claimed when U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice ruled that “Texas (was) violating the civil rights of Spanish-speaking students under the federal Equal Education Opportunity Act,” according to a report by the Associated Press. The court sebsequently ordered the state submit plans to amend the situation and improve the status of Texas' biligual education system.