Connecticut Board of Education Approves Non-English Speakers’ ‘Bill of Rights’

The state Board of Education unanimously approved on Wednesday the adoption of a “bill of rights” for non-English speaking parents. This legislative measure, which was part of the 2023 session, ensures that families have the right to enroll their child in public education and receive translation services and important documents in their native language, regardless of their immigration status.

The legislation, known as House Bill 6762, received strong support last year after advocates, many of them Spanish-speaking parents, shared their struggles of not being able to communicate with school officials or stay updated on their children’s education.

During the board meeting on Wednesday morning, Flor Galindo, a Manchester resident and parent of two, expressed her satisfaction with the decision in Spanish, saying, “This will ensure that other parents don’t have to go through the frustrating experience that I have been through… For years, I watched as other children participated in extracurricular activities and my children were excluded because their first language is Spanish.”

Following the law’s passage in the state legislature, the state Board of Education was tasked with creating a document that would clarify and affirm the rights of parents and English Learners. The state’s Department of Education plans to provide the translated document to districts, and from July onwards, parents will receive a copy in their native language. Local boards of education will also make the document available online.

The bill of rights grants several important rights, including:

  • The right for students to attend public schools in the state, regardless of their or their parents’ immigration status, without needing to submit immigration documents.
  • The right for parents to have translation services during critical interactions such as parent-teacher conferences and meetings with administrators.
  • The right for students to participate in bilingual education programs provided by local or regional boards of education.
  • The right for parents to receive written notices in both English and their native language when their child will be enrolled in a bilingual program.
  • The right for students and parents to receive a high-quality orientation session in their native language.
  • The right for parents to receive progress reports and meet with school staff to discuss the child’s English language development.
  • The right for students to have equal access to all grade-level programming and core subjects.
  • The right for students to undergo yearly language proficiency testing.
  • The right for students to receive support services aligned with any intervention plan provided by districts.
  • The right for parents to contact the state’s Department of Education with any questions or concerns about these rights and accommodations.

Irene Parisi, the chief academic officer of the state’s Department of Education, assured board members that the state will continue its work in implementing these rights. The department’s next steps include providing information sessions to stakeholder groups, creating a dedicated webpage for accessing information on the bill, monitoring district implementation, and establishing a channel for families to voice their concerns.