October 22nd, 2009 5:33 pm | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Schools

PPS Gets A New Director for English-Language Learners At A Tough Time

Portland Public Schools' director of programs for English-language learners is on leave due to sickness and has a temporary replacement, Jean Fischer.

The timing of director Diana Fernandez's departure could not be worse for Portland Public Schools.

Next month, state officials will visit Portland to see if PPS is complying with a February 2009 audit (PDF) of the school district's program for teaching English to immigrant and refugee students. Schools across the district are now preparing for those crucial visits.

The February audit -- which found the district in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act because it sometimes denies immigrant students access to classes at their grade level -- followed a scathing federal complaint from local Latino activists.

Asked to describe her experience with ELL, Fischer said she had been with the district for 27 years and that she had performed extensive work in the field of compliance. She retired in 2006 as an area director supervising principals but has worked as a consultant for PPS since then.
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