Expert :U-46 bilinigual program a top example for other districts

A bilingual education expert told a federal judge Thursday that the bilingual program in Elgin Area School District U-46 was an exemplary program that provided high quality professional development for teachers and welcomed parent involvement to foster academic success for students.

Beatriz Arias, currently associate director at the Center of Applied Linguistics in Washington, D.C., continued her testimony in support of the district's bilingual program that is at the center of a federal bias lawsuit against the district. A lawsuit filed by several families in 2005 claims that redistricting in the 2004-2005 school year discriminated against black and Hispanic students because it denied access to gifted and academy programs and forced minority students into old and overcrowded schools. The trial started up again Tuesday after a hiatus.

Arias said a bilingual education handbook, resources on the district's website and brochures sent home to parents are all examples of the district's commitment to providing principals, teachers and parents consistent information that enable a quality program for students.

“Compared to other districts, I found that it exceptional and I frequently referred other school districts to contact U-46 for their professional development plans,” Arias said.

That testimony contradicted statements made by Alba Ortiz, a bilingual expert for the plaintiffs, who earlier testified that there were limited materials available in either Spanish or English.

Attorneys for the school district rested their case Thursday. The two sides will now prepare for rebuttal and closing arguments before judge Robert Gettleman.

Future court dates have not yet been set.

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