Castañeda vs. Pickard (1981)   [full text]

In this case, which was filed against the Raymondville, Texas Independent School District (RISD), Mexican-American children and their parents claimed that the district was discriminating against them, because of their ethnicity. They argued that classrooms were segregated using a grouping system based on racially and ethnically discriminatory criteria. School districts were required to establish bilingual education according to the Lau vs. Nichols ruling, yet, there was no way to evaluate the adequacy of the school’s approach. Consequently, sometimes it could result in inadequate separation.

This case was tried and on August 17, 1978 the judge ruled in favor of the defendant, stating that the district had not violated any of the plaintiff’s constitutional or statutory rights. The ruling was appealed and in 1981, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. In addition, the Castañeda vs. Pickard case established three criteria for a program that serves LEP students. These measures determine whether a school district is serving the LEP students and if the program addresses the needs of these students. The principles are as follows:

  • It must be based on “a sound educational theory.”
  • It must be “implemented effectively,” with adequate resources and personnel.
  • After a trial period, it must be evaluated as effective in overcoming language handicaps.

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