CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and United States Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina on Tuesday announced that a settlement has been reached with the Charleston County School District (CCSD) following an investigation into equal opportunities for students within the district.
The investigation stemmed from “complaints that the school district failed to communicate essential information to thousands of Spanish-speaking, limited English proficient (LEP) parents and denied their children full and equal access to the district’s education programs and services.”
Investigators found that CCSD did not sufficiently accommodate LEP parents/guardians. Specifically, CCSD “often failed to use qualified interpreters” and “did not consistently translate essential written information into Spanish, nor did it explain options on important decisions about school programs and services with parents in a language that they understood.”
To remedy the issue, CCSD has agreed to:
- Implement effective policies and procedures and provide employees with training to properly identify and meaningfully communicate with LEP parents and guardians;
- Use qualified interpreters and translators at each of the district’s 80 schools and programs to communicate with parents about matters essential to their children’s education and cease relying on family members, untrained staff, and students for such purposes;
- Provide LEP parents with access to documents and information about program offerings, including special education services, in a language they understand at each of the district’s 80 schools and programs;
- Ensure that all parents and guardians knowingly consent to, or decline educational programming and services for, their children; and
- Contact LEP parents and guardians prior to holding special education-related meetings to notify them of the right to have a qualified interpreter at the meeting and translated special-education related documents, at no cost to the parent or guardian.
Acting U.S. Attorney M. Rhett DeHart said that his office “looks forward to continue working with the school district, as it strives to be a model for other districts in providing full and equal access to information.”