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CA Teachers Have Right to Inform Parents about STAR Test Waivers


LEGAL ALERT

Efforts to restrict teachers’ right to initiate discussions with parents and inform them of their right to a waiver are illegal.

Teachers have the right to initiate discussions with parents on STAR tests and inform them of their unqualified right to exempt their children from all STAR tests (this does not include the High School Exit Exam). A signed one-line note by parents to principals is all that is needed, and no reasons need be given. The reported efforts of some California districts to gag teachers and circumvent the court’s ruling are illegal. On April 3, 2002,
the California State Department of Education pursuant to a class action settlement bought by parents of ELL (English Language Learners) and LEP (Limited English Proficient) students issued a court approved legal alert.

The court ruling applies to all teachers and parents. The following are excerpts from that legal alert.
“ [J]udging school performance solely on the basis of SAT-9 scores was
unfair”

“A school district and its employees now may initiate discussions with parents/guardians on advantages and disadvantages of the SAT-9, provide individualized advice on the appropriateness of the SAT-9 for a particular
student, and inform them of the availability of parental waivers. The only limit on staff is that they may not ‘solicit’ or ‘encourage’ parental waivers;”

“If a school fails to meet API growth targets solely due to the low API scores of its English language learners, the district may submit a general waiver to the State Board of Education…Board policy will express a presumption in favor of granting such waivers;”

Ruiz & Sperow, LLP (counsel to Berkeley, Oakland and Hayward in this litigation) is available to advise individuals and groups on implementation of the settlement — in particular teachers’ rights to communicate with
parents regarding the SAT-9 and parental waivers.
Contact: Laura Schulkind, Ruiz & Sperow, LLP, Watergate Tower III, 2000 Powell Street, Suite 1655, Emeryville, CA 94608
(510) 594-7980, (510) 594-7988 fax;
lschulkind@ruizlaw.com

— Harold Berlak, Kathy Emery, Dawn Mermer
Co-Editors
Social Justice and Assessment NOTES

March 2003



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