Pazmiño v. California Board of Education

Pazmiño v. California Board of Education was a lawsuit filed by immigrant children, parents, teachers, and nonprofit educational organizations against the California Department of Education (CDE) and the State Board of Education (SBE) for excluding alternative bilingual education programs from participation in California’s $133 million Reading First Federal Grant Program. ‘Reading First’ is funded through the federal ‘No Child Left Behind’ act (NCLB) to help the state’s most vulnerable children achieve grade level in reading by the end of third grade. The plaintiffs alleged that the SBE and CDE violated the California Administrative Procedures Act (APA), NCLB, state and federal civil rights laws, and the California Constitution when it excluded alternative bilingual education programs from eligibility for Reading First funds. On March 27, 2003, the Superior Court granted a writ of mandate and preliminary injunction that prohibited the SBE and CDE from using grant criteria that were not promulgated pursuant to the APA. In January 2004, the parties settled the remaining claims. In the Settlement Agreement, the SBE and CDE agreed to dramatically alter implementation of the ‘Reading First’ program. The Settlement Agreement requires SBE and CDE to: 1) fund alternative bilingual programs under Reading First; 2) designate an appropriate agency to provide technical assistance, translate end-of-year assessments, and develop materials for professional development for the instructional materials used in alternative bilingual classrooms; and 3) appoint an expert on English Learner issues to the body charged with advising the State concerning Reading First implementation. In response to the lawsuit, California Assembly Members Firebaugh, Goldberg and Yee co-sponsored AB 1485. The bill, effective as of January 1, 2004, prohibits the State Board of Education from excluding alternative bilingual classrooms from Reading First and priortizes approximately $13 million of increased Reading First funds for bilingual classrooms. The Youth Law Center is working with Multicultural Education Training and Advocacy, California Rural Legal Assistance, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Public Interest Law Firm in representing the petitioners.