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Lawsuit Says Phila. School District Fails To Translate Special Education Papers For Parents Who Don't Speak English

By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Parents who don't speak English are watching a federal case alleging the Philadelphia School District has failed to translate special education documents for them.

One of the lead plaintiffs, Barbara Galarza, only speaks Spanish. She says the school district refused to provide her with documents -- in Spanish -- that would have prepared her for word that her daughter was diagnosed with an intellectual disability.

Attorney Michael Churchill is with the Public Interest Law Center, which sued the district in federal court.

"She has never seen the document, has no way of comprehending what the full scope of the meeting is." says Churchill. "And she breaks out in tears at this information that is being given to her for the very first time."

Churchill says non-English-speaking parents are entering Individual Education Plan meetings unprepared.

"There are literally thousands of parents who are being asked to attend meetings about their child's education when they have not been given translations of evaluations or of the proposed school plans -- the IEPs -- for the students in a language that they can understand."

The suit claims nearly 1900 students with IEPs were from homes where English was not their first language.

District spokesman Fernando Gallard says the district does not comment on pending legal cases.

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