Combatting Educational Abuses and the Marginalization of Limited English Proficient Students with Mental Health Concerns and their Parents

Robert Hernandez, J.D., Laura Massie, J.D., and Phillip Kassel, J.D.

Students with mental health-based learning disabilities who are disadvantaged by limited English proficiency (LEP) are routinely ill served, particularly in urban school districts where immigrants and children of color predominate. Serious deficiencies are manifest throughout the process of identifying, evaluating, and providing services to these children. And many schools make little or no effort to translate and interpret so LEP parents can exercise their right to participate in their children’s education.

Panelists will discuss ongoing efforts to address these problems in the Holyoke, MA public schools. Advocacy includes successful litigation against the Holyoke District and the Massachusetts education agency on behalf of LEP parents, as well as efforts to reform bad teaching practices.

Goals and Objectives: Participants will learn about the problems LEP students with mental health based special learning needs and their parents encounter in public schools; strategies for seeking individual and class relief; and what experts say is the state of the art in the teaching of students with both special education and language needs.