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Latino Daily News

Wednesday November 21, 2012

Justice Dept. to Investigate Latino Students, Families Facing Discrimination in Louisiana

Justice Dept. to Investigate Latino Students, Families Facing Discrimination in Louisiana

Photo: (Jen Sablon-Taylor)

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The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) welcomed an announcement by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education that they will investigate two additional components of an SPLC civil rights complaint that describes widespread discrimination against Latino students and their families in Louisiana’s Jefferson Parish Public School System (JPPSS).

In a Nov. 13 letter announcing the investigation, U.S Attorney Paul D. Castillo said the departments would expand their investigation to examine: “(1) whether the District provides national origin-minority parents who have limited proficiency in English with information provided to other parents in a language they understand; and, (2) whether the District failed to take prompt and effective action to respond to harassing conduct creating a hostile environment for Latino students based on national origin, of which JPPSS knew or should have known.”

The investigation will be led by the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights – the primary federal agencies charged with ensuring equal protection under the law for all people within the United States.

Last month, the departments announced a joint investigation into the JPPSS’s policies and practices regarding the documentation needed for student registration, enrollment and graduation.

The SPLC complaint, filed in August on behalf of 16 Latino students and their families, outlines how the district created a hostile environment by allowing employees to harass Latino students about their citizenship status. The complaint also describes the district’s failure to provide Spanish-speaking parents with limited English proficiency access to information regarding school activities and adequate translation and interpretation services.