A change in state law has ended a yearlong dispute between the Glendale Unified School District and some parents who wanted separate English-only classes at Columbus Elementary School for their children instead of mixing them with foreign language students who are learning English.
The new law, which went into effect in August, allows the district to waive a previous requirement that bilingual classes be made up of at least one third students who speak fluent English.
In addition, a state Department of Education advisory, sent to all school districts in June, stated that participation in bilingual classes should be with parents' consent. As a result, parents are now allowed to remove their English-fluent children from bilingual classrooms.
A protest march outside of Columbus had been scheduled for Monday by the group of parents who said their English-speaking youngsters were not getting enough attention in bilingual classrooms. That march was canceled after the parents learned that, as a result of the new state measure, five English-only classes will be offered at the school.
"There's no need to picket now," said Kelly Maddux of Glendale, a spokesman for the group of Columbus parents.
Last fall the group launched a petition drive and went before the school board to demand one English-only class at each grade level. The district replied that state law at that time would not allow such a change and denied the claims that children's educations were being harmed by being in bilingual classes.
Columbus has 641 students, 237 of whom are fluent in English, said Principal Terry L. Dutton.
The district is considering changes in the bilingual program at other elementary schools, depending on the ethnic make-up of the school and the number of requests for more English-only classrooms.