The Department of Justice today announced a settlement agreement with New Bedford Public Schools to resolve the department’s investigation into the school district’s practices in communicating with parents and guardians with limited language proficiency. English, including speakers of K’iche’, an indigenous Maya language.

Among other measures, the district will implement effective measures to correctly identify the languages ​​spoken by students, as well as parents and guardians, so that school personnel do not assume that K’iche speakers are native Spanish speakers according to their country of origin. The district has also agreed to enhance its practices and professional development to meet the specific needs of K’iche’-speaking English language learners so that they can access the same educational opportunities as other students in the district.

“Students and families in indigenous Mayan communities often face unique barriers to accessing educational opportunities,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This comprehensive agreement ensures that the district recognizes and meets the needs of its large population of K’iche’-speaking students, and allows parents to participate fully in their children’s education. The Civil Rights Division is committed to protecting the right of every child to participate equally in school.

The settlement results from the department’s investigation under the Equal Educational Opportunity Act of 1974, which began in 2020. The district has cooperated at every stage of the investigation and has pledged to improve its programs through revised practices and professional development. The Department of Justice will monitor the district’s implementation of the settlement agreement for at least three full school years to ensure the district meets its obligations.

Enforcement of the Equal Educational Opportunity Act 1974 is a top priority of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt.