August 12th, 2008 | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Schools, CLEAN UP

Ya Se Puede: PPS Says It's Already Serving Immigrant Students Well

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The Sentinel in St. Johns has an update to the WW story from June on a federal complaint from local activists against Portland Public Schools.

The complaint, filed in May with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, alleged the Portland district's program for teaching English to non-native children was "utterly dismal and totally unacceptable."

As first reported in The Sentinel (and amplified by the blog, the Office for Civil Rights has opened an investigation of the activists' claims.

Today a spokesman for the feds declined to comment on the reasons for opening the case and would say only that the Education Department was looking into the matter.

PPS spokesman Matt Shelby tells WWire the district is preparing a response to the feds' initial request for information and will comply with whatever the feds decide. But he defended the district's program for English-language learners in its current state.

"We're aware of the review that's happening and will co-operate fully with the Office for Civil Rights," Shelby says. "As a district, we feel we are serving our ESL students appropriately."

The activists, Marta Guembes and Richard Luccetti, reject that idea. "If we were teaching them appropriately, we would not be getting the results we have," Guembes says, noting the 39 percent graduation rate among PPS's Hispanic students as an example of her evidence to the contrary.

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