Thousands of Louisiana students are English Language Learners. Many recently came here from Central America, with or without their families. Schools don’t always know what they need or are entitled to receive. Now the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and Louisiana Department of Education are trying to change that.
Jennifer Coco is an attorney for the SPLC. When it comes to the English Language Learner program in Louisiana, she says “it’s a little underdeveloped. The state does not have the history that, say, Arizona or Texas does with thinking through these issues and really confronting them on a big picture level.”
So her office and the state department of education are teaming up to train school administrators in students’ basic legal rights and educational best practices.
Some of the training will focus on enrollment. Coco says certain registration requirements can create barriers. “Many schools just assume, well, everyone’s gonna have a photo ID,” she says. “Well, undocumented people here in the state of Louisiana cannot get a driver’s license or a state ID.”
Trainers will also discuss the kind of education students are entitled to receive. The training kicks off this week for schools in north Louisiana and includes a session for southeast Louisiana schools later this month.