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Burbank schools now in compliance

Molly Shore

The U.S. Department of Education is no longer monitoring the Burbank

Unified School District.

The department’s office for civil rights notified Supt. Gregory

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Bowman late last month that the school district had successfully

adopted a comprehensive learning program for students who speak a

primary language other than English.

A complaint likely prompted the agency to begin monitoring the

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district in 1996, district officials said.

Andrea Canady, the district’s former director of elementary

education, said she thought a complaint might have been filed because

the program was not geared to the needs of foreign-speaking students.

Bowman said the civil rights office typically responds to a

complaint.

“They investigate the complaint and work with the district to

mitigate any issues and problems they see,” he said.

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Charles R. Love, the acting director of the office of civil

rights, said it is not unusual for a monitoring program conducted by

his office to take seven years.

“We consider this to be a fairly routine monitoring activity,” he

said. “It’s nothing exceptional.”

When the district began its comprehensive learning program, one of

the elements was giving parents input by creating an English Learner

Advisory Committee at every school in the district, said Alexis

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Sheehy, assistant superintendent for instructional services.

Techniques that the district utilized to teach students included

the use of pictures or an actual object as well as a simplified

vocabulary, said Canady, who helped develop the district’s master

plan outlining services for English learners.

Eventually, all schools in the district had teachers trained to

teach English learners, she said.

“I doubt there’s a district in the state that has a higher number

of teachers trained than Burbank,” she said.

Office for Civil Rights staff members Katie Riggs and Vera Lee,

who worked with district administrators throughout the seven-year

monitoring period, declined to be interviewed for this story.


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