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
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
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
“They investigate the complaint and work with the district to
mitigate any issues and problems they see,” he said.
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
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.