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updated: 10/20/2011 5:43 PM

U-46 attorneys play down consultant's report

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Attorneys for Elgin Area School District U-46 said a bilingual special education consultant hired by the plaintiffs' attorneys "cherry picked" information to complete a series of reports that concluded the district failed to provide adequate supports for bilingual students.

For the second day, John Borkowski, an attorney representing U-46 in a federal bias lawsuit that claims the district discriminated against minority students in redrawing boundaries, highlighted information supporting the district that Alba Ortiz did not include in a 2010 report.

But Ortiz, director of bilingual education at the University of Texas at Austin, told the court that the intent of the report was to identify problem areas that would compromise U-46's English Language Learners program.

"If it didn't appear in my report, I wasn't saying it was an issue," Ortiz said.

The defense claimed Ortiz failed to include information found in reports and letters from the Illinois State Board of Education and the Office of Civil Rights that found the district in compliance when moving and transitioning students from an ELL program to a general education classroom, as well as providing adequate language supports for students eligible to receive them.

Still, when plaintiffs' attorney Stewart Weltman asked if anything that the defense had underscored during cross examination Thursday had caused her to change her opinion regarding the efficacy of the district's ELL program, Ortiz responded, "No."

The suit, filed in 2005, claims the district discriminated against Hispanic and black students when it redrew district boundaries in 2004. Families who sued the district said the changes forced minority students to attend older schools and that the district did not provide adequate bilingual services or access to gifted programs.

The trial before federal judge Robert Gettleman is expected to continue later this fall. Plaintiffs are expected to wrap up their case before the defense presents its side.

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