When looking at the overall issue of education within the
State of South Carolina, it is important to consider the impact of the growth
of the Hispanic/Latino population. According to the South Carolina Department
of Education, during the 1998-99 school year, districts reported 3,226 Limited
English Proficiency (LEP) students. During the 1999-2000 school year,
there were some 5,528 LEP students enrolled in the 86 school districts. Of
this number, 4,123 were Hispanic and spoke Spanish as their primary language,
while the remaining 1,405 students spoke languages representing 58 variations. In
a 2000-2001 survey, districts reported 5,525 LEP students according to the
State Department of Education. At present, these numbers may appear small,
but these numbers currently add strain to the already limited educational resources
of the districts. However, as the Hispanic/Latino population increases,
the State Department of Education and local school districts must adequately
prepare themselves to address the specific educational needs of LEP students.
After a group process of determining educational issues, problems,
barriers, and concerns, the following priority areas were identified: 1) language
barriers, 2) barriers to services, and 3) poor communication within the system.
With regards to the education system, it is important to understand
that without a good grasp of the English language, it is very difficult to
enroll a child in school at any age. Language barriers hinder parents
from understanding the need to provide early education either at home or through
day care programs. Language barriers hinder parents from addressing early
immunization and other healthcare issues that must be taken care of before
a child can be enrolled in public schools.
Barriers to services, such as some school districts requiring
that a child have a Social Security Card in order to enroll in school or that
they must provide their own transportation to get to services especially established
for LEP students, and other issues must be addressed from a statewide prospective,
as well as by local school district policy. This leads to a need for
better communication within the educational system to ensure that LEP students
across the state obtain quality education that will assist them in becoming
These issues and others must be addressed or they will continue
to cause interruptions in the learning process. Education is key to alleviating
poverty and deprivation. Persons immigrating into the United States and
to South Carolina will develop into two very distinct kinds of people if attention
is not given to this matter. Immigrants will either become drains
on the welfare and tax systems within the state or if properly educated, they
will develop into productive bilingual workers who will benefit the state’s
economy and society.
After consulting with parents, teachers, students, outreach
workers, community members, regional task force groups and staff from the State
Department of Education, the Hispanic/Latino Ad Hoc Committee agrees that the
following concerns need the attention of state leaders and Governor Jim Hodges.
- Students are often required to travel long distances within the district
to take advantage of programs entitled English for Speakers of Other
- The grade assignment and placement of LEP students are often based on
grouping students with LEP in the same class to serve as interpreters for
- LEP students are often grouped together rather than on various grade
levels, therefore students may actually be assigned to the wrong grade
- ESOL programs often do not receive necessary funding. In fact,
these specialized programs do not receive any state funding. This
lack of funding leaves the programs understaffed and lacking necessary
books and supplies.
- Interpreters are often not available, and when they are, they
often are not utilized for parent conferences and for special education
- Schools often do not utilize state resources made available to them to
meet the needs of LEP students, i.e. TransACT Software made available to
the school districts by the State Department of Education for interpreting
and translating forms and educational documents. This results in:
a) parents and students being unaware of school polices
usually referenced in student handbooks that are written in English only;
b) parents of LEP children having difficulty completing emergency medical
cards and other vital information that are required for each student;
c) school lunch cards used to qualify students for free and reduced lunch
not being translated into other languages; therefore, students that would
qualify often go hungry during the school day. Additionally, the
social security number is oftentimes requested but is not a requirement. A
simple explanation of the proper way to complete the card (even without
a social security card) would allow many more children to qualify for the
- It is difficult for school systems to address special education requirements
for LEP students because of the language barrier. Therefore, the
special education requirements are often ignored for LEP students. There
is a lack of adequate educational accommodation for Hispanic/Latino students
who have unique educational needs.
- Currently, state testing programs do not allow students to be tested
in their primary language. Students can be exempted from testing
for up to three years, which includes the exit exams, that are required
for high school diplomas. Therefore, parents, students and school
officials postpone testing until it absolutely has to be done, which further
exacerbates the problem, if the school district has done a poor job providing
English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).
- Language barriers often lead to retention and graduation postponement
for LEP students.
- There is a general lack of bilingual personnel at the district level
and in schools. There is a lack of bilingual home-school liaisons.
- Teachers and school districts are often unfamiliar with the cultural
differences that exist among the Hispanic/Latino population. These differences
often lead to misinformation and lack of clear communication. Some of the
problems associated with this issue are:
- a) cultural differences in how children's names are recorded interfere
with consistent record-keeping;
b) there is a lack of adequate staff development on the local district
level, which makes teachers and staff culturally insensitive to the specific
needs of children; and
c) lack of teachers with Spanish speaking capabilities.
Advisory Recommendations - Education:
The members of the Ad Hoc Committee advise that the State Department of
- School staffs are often not aware of the laws that surround the issues
of ESOL and LEP students. Families enrolling children are often turned
away by school staff who are not familiar with current enrollment requirements
under the law.
- There is a lack of monitoring of school districts to ensure that all
rights under the law are being afforded LEP students.
- Available services for LEP students vary by district. Many smaller,
rural districts, which often have a high enrollment of Hispanic/Latino
children, have difficulty adhering to the current requirements of the law.
Because of this, they often ignore the laws choosing to address the need
when complaints are made.
- Some school districts list available services on the State Department
of Education Report Forms, but do not actually offer the services.
- The State Department of Education Office of Foreign Languages and English
for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), which responds to inquiries related
to Hispanic/Latino issues, is understaffed and not equipped to handle all
of the intricacies of meeting the educational needs of Hispanic/Latino
- Families from other cultures often are not aware of the requirement
that children attend school through age 17. As a result, parents fail to
send children who have LEP.
- Lack of capturing information by race and ethnicity for the purposes
of future reporting and research.
- Provide appropriate and qualified staffing to coordinate policy matters,
monitoring, reporting and technical assistance needed to serve the needs
of seasonal, migrant, and resident Hispanic/Latino children.
- Offer the following assistance:
a) advocacy services for Hispanic/Latino parents and their children;
b) link children with available educational services;
c) work with school districts to develop and utilize appropriate
means and standards to address specific needs of Hispanic/Latino children
to include promotion/retention policies for LEP students and appropriate
use of translators;
d) educate school districts about the current availability of school
forms in Spanish and the availability of computer software to translate
e) operate a hotline where teachers, parents, students and community
members can anonymously report and request assistance for school districts
who violate LEP requirements; and
f) monitor school districts to ensure that all rights under
the law are being afforded non-English speaking students.
- Address language barrier issues as required by the Accountability
Act of 1996.
- Study culturally sensitive testing and investigate how other states
have handled language barriers in regards to testing.
- Research and acquire appropriate assessments in Spanish.
- Require all school districts to distribute and use the TransACT software
information among all schools within their districts.
- Monitor the use of the TransACT system with regards to all South
Carolina school districts.
- Require all schools to have translated forms available for parents
of LEP students in the school office.
- Require all school districts to encourage their teachers to utilize
the TransACT system software, when appropriate.
- Require staff development and training for staff at the school district
level related to addressing the needs of LEP students.
- Send school districts directives on how to consistently record children's
names using a hyphen and audit schools periodically to ensure their compliance.
- Require all school districts to develop a Child Find Plan in order
to determine the number of LEP children in the district and provide services
for LEP students.
- Require all districts to follow the Child Find District Plans and
to submit their plans to the State Department of Education.
- Increase funding for ESOL programs and for school districts that
work with LEP students. Increase funding for all educational programs
within school districts that develop and implement plans to address educational
concerns for ESOL children.
- Investigate and follow-up on all complaints filed against Title I
schools which receive federal funding to provide services to LEP students.
- Require school districts to have qualified bilingual staff
to carry out home visits and to serve as school liaisons to meet the
needs of families with LEP.
- Recommend that local districts consider the feasibility of having
school registration for LEP students at one location so that community-based
organizations serving this population can assist schools with this
process and get appropriate information to parents.
- Recommend to school districts that for the first three months of school,
additional part-time bilingual counselors be hired to insure that students
get proper placement in classes early on and do not fall behind.
Report Cover | Historical
Perspective | Introduction | Executive
Summary | Health Issues | Public
Saftey Issues | Human Rights | Immigration,
Transportation and Fraud Issues