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February 28, 2008  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

Students permitted to speak Spanish on bus


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GOLDFIELD, Nev. — The Esmeralda County School District has adopted a policy that allows students to speak Spanish while riding the school bus, revoking a ban that was approved by its school board in October.

The prohibition on speaking Spanish had affected about a dozen students from a farming and ranching community in Esmeralda County, who are bused by the district to a high school in neighboring Nye County.

The district implemented the new policy — which states, “There is no general rule prohibiting Spanish on any of our buses” — after it received a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

“The school district understands that students have a constitutional right to free speech,” said Gary Peck, executive director of the ACLU of Nevada. “Once the superintendent was informed that prohibiting students from speaking Spanish violated their rights, the school district was very willing to work out a policy that both encourages students to practice their English skills and allows them to speak their native language.”

On the bus ride that the students take to return to Esmeralda County, there is an academic period for the first 45 minutes in which the students are required to do homework, study or read. During this period, the district asks that all students practice their English skills.

Students who are more proficient in English may speak Spanish while assisting those whose English is more limited. Students who are developing their English skills will work with a tutor who rides with them.

The second 45-minute period of the evening ride is considered free time, and students may speak to one another in any language they choose. Students may also speak to each other in the language of their choice during the morning bus ride.

When communicating with the bus driver and tutors, the district asks that students speak in English or ask another student to interpret if necessary, because the bus driver and the tutors don't speak Spanish.

 


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