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Dual Language Program Continuing for Next Year, Outside Audit Ordered

Jun 10, 2014 12:15AM ● By Steven Jack

Oswego School District 308 Superintendent Matthew Wendt discusses the Dual Language program at Monday night's school board meeting.

Oswego District 308’s Dual Language program will not be dismantled for the 2014-15 school year, but as part of the district’s English Language Learners program it will face an outside educational audit due in October. 

Superintendent Matthew Wendt acknowledged at Monday night’s School Board meeting that communication between the district and parents of Dual Language students has been lacking in the weeks since the controversy erupted. However, Wendt insisted changes must be made throughout the ELL program to increase what he called unacceptable test scores. 

Though Wendt assured parents that the audit would be impartial, some remained skeptical given what they say has been a previous lack of outreach form the district.

“There has been zero collaboration … not even 1 percent,” said Luis Perez, a leader of the World Class 308 — parent organization formed to educate the community about District 308 language programs. 

Perez also urged the board to include the Bilingual Parent Advisory Council (BPAC) in the process of selecting an independent auditor.

Wendt said though he plans to listen to parent input, the auditor will be hired with the assistance of the Illinois State Board of Education. Further, Wendt said the results of the audit will be acted upon quickly.

“We need the results,” Wendt said. “Education of kids is in the balance.”

The effort to save the Dual Language program began in late April after parents say school administrators presented skewed academic performance numbers to the School Board in order to begin dismantling the program because it's politically unpopular among board members. 

The program currently serves about 360 students and often has an annual waiting list of hundreds to gain entry. The program is housed at both Hunt Club Elementary and Plank Junior High schools.

ALSO READ: District 308 Dual Language Parents Fighting to Keep Program Alive
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State Rep. Linda Chapa Lavia of Aurora also appeared before the board Monday night during its public comment portion, saying the board and parents need to work together to find a way to fix issues within the program. She offered her expertise as the chairwoman of House Elementary & Secondary Education Committee.

“I am not here to overtake this process,” she said. “… Please allow me to be part of a greater solution for you.” 

Board Member Alison Swanson said she hoped Chapa Lavia would use that same kind of energy on a larger scale.

“(There are) 367 students in DL, 17,700 students in Oswego and 2,083,097 public school students in Illinois,” she said. “It is my hope to also see (Chapa Lavia’s) name associated with a fight against cuts to general state aid for all districts.” 

Kindergarteners who were scheduled to start the Dual Language program this fall will be allowed to continue, and three teachers will be hired at the junior high level to replace those that left the district this year.