Justice Dept. Forces Prov Public Schools to Provide English Language Services to 8,000 Students

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

 

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Federal lawsuit settled

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the United States Attorney’s’ Office of Rhode Island announced a settlement with the Providence public school district that will provide English language services to the district’s nearly 8,000 English language learners. 

Providence mayoral candidate Robert DeRobbio added, “Providence students shouldn’t need a federal investigation to get a good education. Providence teachers shouldn’t need a federal investigation to have access to the resources they need to teach their students. The current administration has done nothing to improve our schools besides empty rhetoric. Instead of solving real problems, the mayor has chosen to pick political fights with our teachers and has forced them to work without a contract for over a year."

In Providence nearly 60% of students come from homes where English is either a second language or is not spoken at all, only 20% of teachers were certified to teach students for whom English was not their primary language. It was only after the federal investigation began that Jorge Elorza’s school department started offering affordable ways for teachers to learn best practices for engaging English Language Learners. 

There was no comment from Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza.

The Agreement

The agreement comes from the United States’ investigation under the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974.

Under the agreement, the district will:

  • Properly identify and place English Learner students when they enroll in the district’s 41 schools, and communicate with parents about program offerings and other essential information in a language they understand; 
  •  Provide adequate English language services to all English Learner students so that they can become proficient in English and access grade-level core content instruction;
  •  Ensure appropriate services for English Learner students with disabilities;
  • Secure a sufficient number of teachers who are certified in English as a Second Language, and train the administrators and teachers who implement the English Learner programs; and
  • Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of its English Learner programs over time.

“As a result of this settlement agreement, English Learner students will now receive all of the services they are legally entitled to and deserve,” said U.S. Attorney Stephen G. Dambruch for the District of Rhode Island. 

The case was litigated by Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy R. Romero of the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island and Trial Attorney Andrea Hamilton of the Education Opportunities Section, Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice.

The enforcement of the Equal Educational Opportunities Act is a top priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  Additional information about the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt.

 

Related Slideshow: 2018 Rhode Island Criminal Justice Hall of Fame Inductees - June 2018

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Hugh Clements

Colonel of the Providence Police Department

Clements was appointed to the Providence Police Department on May 5, 1985, as a night Patrol Officer in the Uniform Division. He then went on to serve on the Neighborhood Response Team Uniformed Task Force before being transferred to the Special Investigations Bureau, the department’s vice and drug unit. In 1990, Clements was promoted to Detectives where he worked in the night squad. In 1992, Detective Clements was promoted to the rank of Sergeant where he spent three years as a night Sergeant in Sub-District 1, South Providence. Sergeant Clements was then transferred to the Detective Bureau where he served as the Squad 2 Sergeant and spent the next seven years supervising the investigations of all major crimes including murder, robbery, burglary, firearms offenses and gang activity. In a squad that carried an extremely heavy caseload, he played an active role in several major investigations during this time.

In 2002, Hugh was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and transferred to the midnight shift of the Patrol Bureau. Lieutenant Clements was later assigned as District 5 Commander covering the neighborhoods of Olneyville, Hartford, and Silver Lake. Consistent with the department philosophy at this time, the true community police model was practiced with several creative and innovative initiatives carried out in this particular district. He was transferred back to the Detective Bureau, and in December 2005, he was promoted to Captain where he was responsible for all major crimes operations in the Investigative Division.

In 2008, when promoted to Major he was assigned for one year as the Commander of the Homeland Security Division, before being reassigned as the Commanding Officer of the Uniform Division.

He later served as Deputy Chief and was appointed as Acting Chief of Police in July 2011, and on January 6, 2012, he was appointed as the 37th Chief of the Department and promoted to the rank of Colonel.

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The Honorable Walter Stone 

Associate Justice, Rhode Island Superior Court

Walter Stone passed away in September of 2017.

He was named to the bench in October of 2010 by then-Governor Donald Carcieri. He replaced Judge Rogeriee Thompson when she was elevated to serve as a U.S. Circuit Judge.

Before being appointed to the court, Stone was a partner at the Providence-based law firm Adler Pollock & Sheehan.

Stone was a graduate of Fisk University and earned a J.D. from Case Western Reserve School of Law.

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Joseph Stetkiewicz  

Chief, Central Falls Police Department

Joseph Stetkiewicz served as the chief of the Central Falls Police Department from 1946 to 1968.

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Robert McKenna

Director, Roger Williams University Justice System Training, and Research Institute; Lieutenant, East Providence Police Department (Ret.)

Robert McKenna is the Associate Dean and serves as an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice in the School of Justice Studies at Roger Williams University.

Additionally, he serves as the Director of the Justice System Training & Research Institute, the professional development component of the School of Justice Studies.

Associate Dean McKenna holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and a Master of Science degree in the Administration of Justice from Salve Regina University, Newport, Rhode Island, as well as a Juris Doctor degree from The New England School of Law, Boston, Massachusetts. 

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Stephen Springer

(retired) Detective, Providence Police Department; Investigator, Rhode Island Office of Attorney General

A 1968 graduate of the Providence Police Academy, Stephen J. Springer served in the Patrol Bureau for approximately five years before being promoted to Detective. For the next 30 years, he served as a Detective, largely in the South Providence area.  During that time, he served as the primary or secondary investigator on more than 200 homicides, a number unmatched in Rhode Island law enforcement. He joined the RI Office of Attorney General in 2004 as an investigator, retiring in December 2017.

He has received numerous awards over his career, including the Attorney General’s Law Enforcement Award (1978), Rhea Archambeault Award (1984), Medal of Valor (1984), Commissioner’s Award (1993), Rhode Island Justice Assistance “Neil Houston Award” (2001), and FOP Outstanding Police Officer of the Year (2002).

Over the course of his nearly 50 years in law enforcement, Stephen Springer epitomized professionalism, dedication, courage, and integrity, tirelessly working on the streets for his entire career, and in the process served as the face of law enforcement to all those he encountered.

 

Springer and his wife Virginia McGinn reside in Barrington, RI.

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Susan Erstling, Ph.D., LICSW

(retired) - Family Services of RI; Rhode Island State Victim Assistance Academy

Erstling headed the Family Service of RI trauma and loss center, and is a founder of the RI State Victim Assistance Academy.

She has a wealth of experience working with victims, witnesses, and responders in the aftermath of violent incidents, including shootings. 

She and her team also provided training to professionals across the state regarding the effects of trauma.

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Lionel “Pete” Benjamin

Major, Rhode Island State Police

Lionel Benjamin passed away in 2008. 

Benjamin joined the RI State Police Department in 1958, retiring as a Major in 1990, having served 15 of those years as the youngest and longest serving Executive Officer in the country.

As a graduate of the F.B.I. Academy, he was recognized for his expertise in the prevention of organized crime and served proudly under the direction of the legendary Colonel Walter E. Stone.

Consistent with his altruistic nature, he had been a volunteer fireman for the Marieville Fire Department for 15 years as well as a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran of the Korean Conflict.

 
 

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