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My child is learning English – what are his/her rights under federal law?

English learner students have a right to equal access to high-quality education and the opportunity to achieve full academic potential. States, districts, and schools have obligations under federal law.

What kind of obligations does a school have for English Learners?

Schools have obligations to:

  • identify English learner students in a timely, valid and reliable manner;
  • offer all English learner students an educationally sound language assistance program;
  • provide qualified staff and sufficient resources for instructing English learner students;
  • ensure English learner students have equitable access to school programs and activities;
  • avoid unnecessary segregation of English learner students from other students;
  • monitor students' progress in learning English and doing grade-level classwork;
  • remedy any academic deficits English learner students incurred while in a language assistance program;
  • move students out of language assistance programs when they are proficient in English and monitor those students to ensure they were not prematurely removed;
  • evaluate the effectiveness of English learner programs; and
  • provide parents who have limited English proficiency with information about school programs, services, and activities in a language they understand.

What can I do if I think my child’s rights are being violated?

If you have questions, want additional information, or believe that a school is violating federal law, contact the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR).  The Cleveland OCR office can be reached at 216-522-4970 (TDD: 800-877-8339). Also see their website at

You can also file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights if you believe your child is being discriminated against. For more information about filing a complaint, visit

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