The opinion of the court was delivered by: MISHLER
Memorandum of Decision and Order
The individual named plaintiffs who are of Puerto Rican ancestry, bring this action on behalf of their children who attend school in the Patchogue-Medford School District. They claim that their children have English language deficiencies and that they are deprived equal educational opportunity with monolingual English speaking students. Plaintiffs contend that this is a violation of the equal protection of laws guaranteed by the fourteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States (Complaint par. 24) and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq. and the regulations promulgated thereunder.
The named plaintiffs bring the action as representatives of a class certified by the order of this court dated February 3, 1976 as
Puerto Rican and Hispanic children attending school in the Patchogue-Medford School District who are unable to understand the courses taught in the district because of deficiencies in understanding the English language.
Defendants are school officials and members of the Board of Education of the Patchogue-Medford School District who are charged with the duty of complying with Federal and State statutes and regulations relating to the education of children attending schools in the District. Their answer generally denies the material allegations of the complaint and affirmatively alleges that the District offers a bilingual program that adequately meets the needs of students whose dominant language is Spanish and which fully complies with the constitutional and statutory mandate requiring the same learning opportunity be afforded to Spanish speaking students as their English speaking counterparts. Additionally, the answer alleges affirmative defenses, lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to exhaust administrative remedies.
A trial of the issues was to the court without a jury. The court finds:
The Patchogue-Medford School District is located in Suffolk County on the south shore of Long Island, approximately 60 miles east of New York City. The District has jurisdiction over the public school system in the Village of Patchogue and the Hamlet of Medford. The total population within its territorial jurisdiction is approximately 55,000. Its school population is approximately 11,000 students of whom approximately 800 are Hispanic. The school district operates seven elementary schools (kindergarten to grade 5), three middle schools (grades 6 to 9) and one high school (grades 10 to 12).
Supervision of the Bilingual Education Program.
From July 1972 to July 1977 the school district offered a bilingual education program under the leadership of Paul Hauser, the director of Pupil Services.
From September 1974 to June 1976, the bilingual education program was under the direct supervision of Dr. Ildefonso Cabrera, a bilingual teacher, as chairman of the bilingual department. In July 1977, Frank John Rossi, succeeded Mr. Hauser as supervisor of the bilingual education program in a newly created post of Director of Instructional Services which included responsibility for the entire bilingual education program of the school district from kindergarten to grade 12.
Students Enrolled in the Bilingual Program.
Of the approximate 800 Hispanic children attending school only 186 participate in the bilingual program: they are distributed (as of the fall term, 1977) throughout the school system as follows:
163 of the 186 students in the bilingual education program emigrated from Puerto Rico.
The Bilingual Teaching Staff.
In 1978 the school district's Spanish bilingual program consisted of six full-time bilingual teachers, one part-time bilingual teacher and six bilingual aides. The bilingual teachers report to and are evaluated by Mr. Rossi and the principals of the schools. Mr. Rossi does not speak Spanish; he is unfamiliar with the methodology of teaching English as a second language and has neither education nor training in bilingual education. It appears that the principals who are called upon to evaluate the performance of bilingual teachers are unfamiliar with bilingual teaching methods and do not understand Spanish. They only observe the teachers as required "according to the contract between the Teachers Union and the Board of Education". (Rossi, Tran. p. 28)
Of the bilingual teachers appointed since the commencement of this action only Dr. Ferdinand Contino (whose native language is English) and Mrs. Estrella Lopez (whose native language is Spanish) appear to have the formal training for bilingual teaching. The record indicates that the other bilingual teachers hired in 1975 are qualified to teach ...