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Oswego District 308 Cuts Ties with Bilingual Parent Group

Feb 15, 2015 04:24PM ● By Steven Jack

District 308 Assistant Superintendent Paul O'Malley

The ongoing dispute between Oswego School District 308 and the Bilingual Parent Advisory Council took a another turn late last week — a development that has the group considering legal action against the district.

In a memo to BPAC board members dated Feb.12, Assistant Superintendent Paul O’Malley said the district has officially severed ties with the state-mandated parent group. O’Malley cited several legal compliance issues with BPAC for the district’s official action.

O’Malley writes that the BPAC is made up of a minority of parents of children who are English Language Learners and a majority of parents whose children are native English speakers and members of the district’s Dual Language program. According to O'Malley, federal and state law require that the mix of parents be reversed with the majority being ELL parents.

“It is evident that the membership on the BPAC is not representative of the languages served in the District’s EL programs,” O’Malley writes. 

The 500-member BPAC has been at odds with the administration and School Board for nearly a year over the future of the district’s Dual Language program. The district ordered an outside evaluation of Dual Language last year, and board members may vote to dismantle the program at their meeting Monday, Feb. 23.

JC Reveles, BPAC’s Board Vice President, said the group has been trying since December to rectify what administrators believe are the problems with the group. However, administrators have ignored the group’s requests to discuss the issues, Reveles said.

In an attempt to move the group into compliance, a new BPAC board recently was selected with a majority of members who are ELL parents, Reveles said.

“This is a wake up call to all organizations in the district,” he said. “If you speak against the board or administration, they don’t like it. They will come after you. This is plain harassment.”

O’Malley also writes in his letter that the BPAC does not appear to have filed required nonprofit status paperwork with the Illinois Secretary of State’s office. Reveles acknowledged the filings may have “fallen through the cracks” in the past.

“We are a group of volunteers; we are not lawyers,” he said. “If they go through any organization in the district, they will find issues.”

Meanwhile, O’Malley said the district will take steps to form a new BPAC.

“We invite BPAC members who are, in fact, parents or legal guardians of EL students eligible for services under (School Code) to join the new parent advisory committee once it is established,” he said.

Reveles said the group’s next step is to develop a response to the district, which may include seeking legal counsel.