LANSING — State Representatives Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) and Assistant Democratic Leader Fred Durhal III (D-Detroit) sent a letter to Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Darnell Earley today asking him to retain bilingual clerical staff in six Southwest Detroit schools: Western International High School, Maybury Elementary, Bennett Elementary, Roberto Clemente Academy, Clippert Academy and Earhart Middle School. Earley has indicated that he plans to cut these staff members.
“All of these schools serve a large population of limited English proficiency (LEP) families, so to cut staff that can communicate with family members about their child’s progress is unthinkable,” said Chang. “Involving parents in their child’s education is key to that child’s success, but that won’t happen if they can’t talk to teachers and school officials. I’m also concerned about civil rights violations without these bilingual staff members. Federal law requires that information is shared with parents in a manner that they can understand. Having bilingual clerical staff at these particular schools is crucial to ensure that Detroit Public Schools meets these obligations.”
Chang and Durhal pointed out that one of the state goals of the Detroit Public Schools is to increase the graduation rate of the district’s English language learners. Parents and family members who aren’t English-proficient rely on bilingual clerical staff to help them understand their child’s educational needs. Without bilingual staff, the child may have to interpret a conversation that should only happen between adults.
“We expect our schools to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars, but this is cost-cutting that will irreparably harm LEP families and students,” said Durhal. “These families already face challenges. Losing bilingual clerical staff in the schools their children attend will only create more challenges and barriers as these families try to settle in to a new community, and their children try to succeed in school. I hope Mr. Earley rethinks his plan and decides to leave these bilingual staff members in our schools.”