Court Denies Texas Education Agency's Efforts To Stall Students' Rights To Equal Educational Opportunities

December 19, 2008

AUSTIN, TX – Earlier today, a federal district court denied the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) request to put on hold the court’s order that requires TEA to remedy its language programs for English Language Learner (ELL) children across Texas in the long-standing case, US v. Texas. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the Multicultural Education, Training and Advocacy, Inc. (META), on behalf of LULAC and the GI Forum, hotly contested TEA’s Motion to Stay Proceedings Pending Appeal filed just weeks ago and urged the Court to hold TEA to the current deadline of January 31, 2009.

“It is very sad to see TEA attempt to shirk its responsibilities and further delay opportunities for ELL children to learn the English language,” said co-lead counsel David Hinojosa of MALDEF. “Fortunately, the Court recognized the urgency of the matter and is intent on holding TEA’s feet to the fire.” According to Roger Rice, counsel from META, the Court stated: "The time has come to put a halt to the failed secondary ESL program and monitoring system." Rice added, "Instead of playing legal games, TEA should be sitting down and fixing its program. If not now, when?"

On July 24, 2008, U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice issued the most comprehensive legal decision concerning the civil rights of ELL students in the last 25 years, finding that Texas was failing to overcome language barriers for tens of thousands of Latino students in secondary programs. While the Court noted that there was some success for students in the state’s K-6 bilingual education program, the record at the secondary level was one of dismal failure. Accordingly, the Court ordered TEA to submit a plan to the Court no later than January 31, 2009 that would improve the State’s programs for ELL secondary students and revamp its statewide monitoring system.

In its present motion, TEA had asked the Court to delay the injunction pending its appeal to the Fifth Circuit on the grounds that it could not meet the deadline because of a lack of funding and resources. However, the Court rejected that argument finding the agency’s arguments without merit.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has yet to issue a briefing scheduling on TEA’s appeal.

For all media inquiries, please contact Laura Rodriguez.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund