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Parents Seek English-Only Classes at Columbus School

February 20, 1986|SAM ENRIQUEZ | Times Staff Writer

A group of Glendale parents presented school board members with petitions Tuesday asking the district to provide separate English-only classes at Columbus Elementary School for their children, instead of mixing them with Latino, Asian and Armenian students who are learning English.

Marilyn King, a spokeswoman for the group, said about 600 signatures have been collected since the petition drive began last fall.

The group wants the district to provide at least one classroom at each grade level at Columbus for children whose parents do not want them mixed with other children who are learning English. The parents believe English-speaking students in the first three grades are not receiving sufficient attention from their teachers in the school's bilingual classrooms, King said.

District officials deny that students whose first language is English are being held back in bilingual classrooms. They say there are not enough fluent English-speaking students to provide separate English-only classrooms at Columbus and still meet state requirements.

The state requires that a bilingual program be provided when at least 10 children in any grade level are more fluent in a language other than English. In addition, the law requires that at least a third of the bilingual classes have students who speak fluent English.

All three classes in each of the first three grades at Columbus are bilingual. A majority of students in those grades are more fluent in a language other than English, according to district records.

School board members said only the Legislature can change the class requirements.

"I will not go for a program that violates the law," said board member Charles Whitesell. "You are directing this complaint to the wrong people."

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