Appellate Court Rules Against School Districts

Aug | 2009

The news is not good but we know that all the work of our attorneys, the courage of our school boards and administrators and the support from the field helped bring the critical issue of fair, just, valid and reliable assessments for English learners to the attention of thousands of people in California and around the nation. We have had an incredible team of attorneys who for four years served as the voice of our students, parents, and teachers who see daily the results of this accountability system that punishes districts, schools and children for not being able to compete on tests written for native English speakers. We will continue to explore all of our options to achieving our goal of an accountability system that rewards growth and allows English learners to demonstrate their content knowledge and skills in way that respects and reflects their strengths in English and their home language.


Court of Appeals Oral Arguments – Update

May | 2009

Coachella Valley Unified School District et al. v. State of California et al.

Case no. A120667— Oral argument May 18, 2009—status report

On May 18, 2009 over 80 parents, teachers, administrators and board members gathered in San Francisco to witness the oral arguments of our NCLB Testing Lawsuit, Coachella Valley Unified School District v. the State of California.  Prior to entering the court house, Senator Gloria Romero, our attorney – Mary Hernandez, a teacher, board member and superintendent spoke to our supporters and the press as to the importance of this lawsuit and the significance it has to close to 1.6 million English learners. Our numbers were so large that once the oral arguments started half of the group had to participate in an overflow auditorium where the hearing were broadcast live.

 At the oral argument, the court declared the matter submitted, which means that the court will now consider the record (evidence and argument) closed. The one exception is the request from the court to the State, to provide citations to the record (the evidence presented to the trial court) of statistical or psychometric data that the CSTs and CAHSEE are valid and reliable and/or accurate measures of English Learner academic knowledge.  Per the court website, that information is due May 22.

The appellate court now prepares an opinion. The opinion can be unanimous or split 2-1. The internal operating rules for the First Appellate District are posted on its website and explain the court process for reaching agreement on an opinion. A dissenting justice can issue his/her own opinion as well.

There is no set time really for the issuance of an opinion. It ranges from a week to several months. Although technically an opinion must issue within 90 days, if the court needs more time, it procedurally can. Opinions can be published or not. Published opinions are precedential.

Either side can appeal the Court of Appeal decision to the California Supreme Court. However these appeals are discretionary and a very low percentage of appeals are actually taken.

Continue to check this website for updates. We will post the decision as soon as the court decides.

Update on NCLB Testing Lawsuit

Dec | 2008

Coachella Valley USD et. al. v. State of California San Francisco Superior Court decision is appealed to the First Appellate District – Division 5 in San Francisco

Superior Court Judge Kramer decided on May 25, 2007 that he didn’t have the authority through the writ of mandate process to order California to change its testing system for the purposes of the No Child Left Behind Act because he decided that the duties under NCLB are discretionary, not mandatory.  He did not review any evidence nor made any determination on whether or not California’s testing meets the requirement under NCLB that they be valid and reliable for English learners

Attached are the opening brief May 2008 and final brief November 2008, declaration from California School Boards Association and an amicus brief from the California Rural Legal Assistance filed with the appellate court.  The next step is for the court to set a date for oral arguments.


Brief Filed with San Francisco Superior Court

Jan | 2007

On January 3, 2007, plaintiffs filed their opening brief and supporting evidence with San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer asking him to issue a writ of mandate finding California’s system of assessments and accountability out of compliance with NCLB mandates concerning testing of English Learners. The filing leads the way for a final decision on the writ cause of action by Judge Kramer, expected after a hearing to be held as early as March 2007. Below is plaintiffs’ opening brief, entitled “Memorandum in Support of Motion for Issuance of Writ of Mandate.”

Coachella vs State of California Lawsuit

Sep | 2006

Nine school districts and three statewide organizations have retained three major civil rights and education law firms to pursue a lawsuit against the State of California to enforce the provisions of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act pertaining to the academic assessment of English Learners. The objective of this lawsuit is to compel the State of California to assess the academic progress of its English Learners as required by the mandate of NCLB:

States must assess limited English proficient students in “a valid and reliable manner” that includes (A) “reasonable accommodations”; and (B) “to the extent practicable, assessments in the language and form most likely to yield accurate data on what such students know and can do in academic content areas, until such students have achieved English language proficiency.”

Court Remand Order

Aug | 2005

On August 5, 2005 United States District Court Judge William Alsup granted plaintiffs’ motion to remand the No Child Left Behind English Learner assessment litigation back to State Superior Court in San Francisco. Plaintiffs, including a broad coalition of school districts , Californians Together and other nonprofit organizations from throughout the State, filed their action in state court on June 1, 2005. Below is the court order and the press release on this action.

The lawsuit alleges that California has failed to perform a mandatory duty under No Child Left Behind to test English Learners in a valid and reliable manner and has failed to provide the accommodations required.


Californians Together and CABE Retain Counsel to Challenge California Implementation of NCLB Testing of English Learners

Apr | 2005

Joining Coachella Valley Unified School District, the California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE) and Californians Together jointly retained three major civil rights and education law firms to pursue a lawsuit against the State of California to enforce the provisions of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act pertaining to the academic assessment of English Learners. NCLB Assessment Lawsuit.