STATE OF NEW YORK
2017-2018 Regular Sessions
January 11, 2017
Introduced by M. of A. ROZIC, BRINDISI, COLTON, KAVANAGH, ORTIZ --
Multi-Sponsored by -- M. of A. COOK -- read once and referred to the
Committee on Education
AN ACT to amend the education law, in relation to establishing the
education equity act
The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-
bly, do enact as follows:
1 Section 1. This act shall be known and may be cited as the "education
2 equity act".
3 § 2. The education law is amended by adding a new article 67 to read
4 as follows:
5 ARTICLE 67
6 EDUCATION EQUITY ACT
7 Section 3330. Definitions.
8 3331. School-based language assistance plans.
9 3332. Determination of primary language.
10 3333. Interpretation services required.
11 3334. Translation services required.
12 3335. Notice to parents and guardians.
13 3336. Certification of translation.
14 3337. Department of education website.
15 3338. Reporting.
16 3339. General provisions.
17 § 3330. Definitions. Wherever used in this article, the following
18 terms shall have the respective meanings hereinafter set forth or indi-
20 1. Covered languages. The term "covered languages" means two of the
21 most commonly spoken languages, other than English, being spoken by at
22 least two percent, rounded to the nearest percentile, of the population
23 in a school district within a city, village or town having a population
24 of less than one hundred twenty-five thousand inhabitants, two of the
EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
] is old law to be omitted.
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1 most commonly spoken languages, other than English, being spoken by at
2 least two percent, rounded to the nearest percentile, of the population
3 in a school district within a city having a population of one hundred
4 twenty-five thousand inhabitants or more, eight of the most commonly
5 spoken languages, other than English, being spoken in a community
6 district, as defined in article fifty-two-A of this chapter, within a
7 city having a population of one million or more inhabitants. Such infor-
8 mation shall be reported by a source deemed reliable by the local
9 department of education, except that in a city having a population of
10 one million or more inhabitants, such information shall be deemed reli-
11 able by the New York city department of city planning or such other city
12 agency as the New York city department of education deems a reliable
13 source of such information.
14 2. Primary language. The term "primary language" means the primary
15 language spoken by a student's parents or guardians, as expressed to the
16 department by such parents or guardians.
17 3. School district. The term "school district" means each school
18 district within the state of New York including those within a city
19 having a population of one hundred twenty-five thousand or more inhabit-
20 ants and each community district of the city district, as defined in
21 article fifty-two-A of this chapter. School district further means the
22 office or agency designated by the school district to administer the
23 program set forth in this article.
24 4. School. The term "school" means any public school within the juris-
25 diction of any school district as defined in subdivision three of this
27 5. Translation. The term "translation" means the act of communication
28 between speakers of two or more covered languages wherein the written
29 words of one person are communicated to others in writing in a different
31 § 3331. School-based language assistance plans. Each school district
32 shall annually prepare a language assistance plan which shall contain,
33 at a minimum, an assessment of the language assistance needs of the
34 school district, the ability of the school district to fulfill such
35 needs and the resources required for the school district to fulfill such
36 needs. Each school district shall collect and review such language
37 assistance plans at a date sufficiently early in each fiscal year to be
38 able to consider the contents of such plans in formulating school-based
39 budgets for the coming fiscal year.
40 § 3332. Determination of primary language. Each school district shall
41 determine, upon enrollment or within thirty days of enrollment, the
42 primary language spoken by the parents or guardians of each student
43 enrolled in a public school within such district and whether, if such
44 language is not English, such parent or guardian requires language
45 assistance services in order to communicate effectively with the school
47 § 3333. Interpretation services required. 1. Each school district
48 shall ensure that during regular business hours a sufficient number of
49 individuals are available by telephone to provide interpretation
50 services in each of the covered languages to meet the expected needs of
51 parents or guardians who seek to communicate with their child's school.
52 Where resources allow, such services shall also be available through
53 staff members who shall be present at schools, regional or other depart-
54 mental offices, and other locations where parents and guardians may
55 interact with the school district, but may be provided at such locations
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1 by telephone in the event that a person fluent in the necessary covered
2 language is not available at such location.
3 2. For cities having a population of one million or more inhabitants,
4 the department shall provide interpretation services at meetings of the
5 panel for educational policy events at which four hundred or more
6 persons are expected to attend and meetings or events at which the
7 department reasonably believes that ten percent or more of the persons
8 expected to attend speak primary languages that are covered languages
9 other than English. Such interpretation services shall be provided in
10 whichever of the covered languages the department expects will be spoken
11 as the primary language of the persons attending such meeting or event.
12 § 3334. Translation services required. 1. Each school district shall
13 translate the following documents into each of the covered languages and
14 disseminate such documents to each public school within such district
15 for dissemination to parents and guardians in whichever of the covered
16 languages, if any, is their primary language, as determined by such
17 district pursuant to section thirty-three hundred thirty-two of this
19 a. The standardized text on report cards and permission slips; and
20 b. Documents disseminated to one thousand or more parents or guardians
21 that require a parent or guardian to respond to the department, or that
22 require a parent or guardian to take an action in order to obtain or
23 preserve a right or benefit with respect to their child's education, or
24 that provide notification of an upcoming event that concerns their
25 child's education.
26 2. With respect to any document that the school district produces for
27 distribution to all or substantially all parents and guardians of
28 students in such school district and that it does not distribute to all
29 parents or guardians in the primary language of such parents or guardi-
30 ans, as determined by the school district pursuant to section thirty-
31 three hundred thirty-two of this article, and which document concerns
32 discipline or students' health, safety, right to attend school or any
33 other legal right granted to students or to the parents or guardians by
34 local, city, state or federal law, the school district shall provide
35 either a cover letter or a statement on the face of such document, indi-
36 cating in each covered language how to obtain a free translation or
37 interpretation of such document from the school district.
38 3. With respect to any document not prepared for broad distribution
39 that concerns an individual student's health, safety, legal or discipli-
40 nary matter, right to continue to receive public education or placement
41 in any special education, English language learner or non-standard
42 academic program the school district shall, if not required to do other-
43 wise by state or federal law, rule or regulation, provide such student's
44 parents or guardians whose primary language is a covered language other
45 than English with a translation of such document into the appropriate
46 covered language, or shall provide either a cover letter or a statement
47 on the face of the document, indicating in the appropriate covered
48 language how to obtain a free translation or interpretation of such
49 document from the school district.
50 4. Each school district shall provide a mechanism by which its public
51 school employees can fax documents of a reasonable length to a person or
52 service and receive back a translation of such documents in accordance
53 with the sender's instructions. Such mechanism shall be designed such
54 that, under ordinary circumstances, a principal or teacher can obtain a
55 translation of a single-page note or letter within twenty-four hours or
56 by the conclusion of the next business day, whichever is later.
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1 § 3335. Notice to parents and guardians. 1. Each school district shall
2 prepare in each of the covered languages a short, concise document
3 setting forth the rights of parents and guardians with respect to trans-
4 lation and interpretation services as required by this article and by
5 any other applicable law, rule or regulation, and explaining how to
6 obtain such services. Such document shall be provided, in the appropri-
7 ate covered language, if any, to each parent or guardian who, as deter-
8 mined by the local school district pursuant to section thirty-three
9 hundred thirty-two of this article, requires language assistance
10 services. Copies of such document in each covered language shall be
11 placed in each public school or office to which the public has access in
12 sufficient quantity that it can be provided to any member of the public
13 who enters such school or office and requires language assistance
15 2. A sign written in each of the covered languages shall be displayed
16 in a conspicuous location in each public school, school district office
17 or other departmental office building to which the public has access,
18 indicating the availability and location in such school or building of
19 the document required pursuant to subdivision one of this section.
20 3. In the event that the school district determines that ten percent
21 or more of the parents or guardians of the students attending any indi-
22 vidual school speak a primary language that is not a covered language,
23 then at such individual school, the document and sign required by this
24 section shall be prepared and made available at such school in such
25 other language in addition to the covered languages.
26 § 3336. Certification of translation. In the school district's
27 discretion, it may satisfy the translation requirements of this article
28 with respect to any document concerning a student's education that must
29 be completed with information provided by a parent or guardian whose
30 primary language, as determined by the school district pursuant to
31 section thirty-three hundred thirty-two of this article, is not the
32 language in which the document is printed, if such document is completed
33 by either a parent or guardian or by a school district employee, and
34 signed by the parent or guardian, provided that such school district
35 employee certifies on the face of such document or upon an attached
36 document, in such form and manner as determined by the school district,
37 that such employee provided or secured interpretation or translation
38 services for each parent or guardian signing the document, the employee
39 believes that each such person understood the purpose of the document
40 and the information being provided in the document and conveyed in the
41 interpretation or translation and each such person received a copy of
42 such document and such certification.
43 § 3337. Department of education website. The department shall create a
44 special website which shall contain, on its homepage and on such other
45 web pages as the department shall determine is appropriate, information
46 in each of the covered languages sufficient to direct any user whose
47 primary language is a covered language other than English to a resource
48 on the department's website that contains an explanation of the rights
49 of parents and guardians to translation and interpretation services as
50 required by this article and by any other applicable law, rule or regu-
51 lation, and explaining how to obtain such services.
52 § 3338. Reporting. 1. Except as provided in subdivision two of this
53 section, each school district shall report annually to the local board
54 of education on or before the first day of December of each year, begin-
55 ning in December, two thousand eighteen, the number of parents or guard-
56 ians who had children in the public school system during the immediately
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1 preceding school year whose primary language, as determined pursuant to
2 section thirty-three hundred thirty-two of this article, was not
3 English, and, for each covered language other than English, the number
4 of such parents and guardians speaking such language.
5 2. In cities having a population of one million or more inhabitants,
6 each community district shall report to the city council of the city of
7 New York on or before the first day of December of each year, beginning
8 in December, two thousand eighteen, the number of parents or guardians
9 who had children in the New York city public school system during the
10 immediately preceding school year whose primary language, as determined
11 pursuant to section thirty-three hundred thirty-two of this article, was
12 not English, and, of each covered language other than English, the
13 number of such parents and guardians speaking such language.
14 3. Such report shall also state, with respect to such reporting peri-
16 a. Number of distinct documents that the school district translated
17 into the covered languages and the general nature of such documents;
18 b. Number of meetings at which the school district provided interpre-
19 tation services and the languages for which it provided such services;
20 c. Annual budget for language assistance services;
21 d. Number of employees whose primary job function is to provide such
22 language assistance services; and
23 e. Number of times interpretation services were provided by telephone,
24 and the languages in which such services were provided.
25 § 3339. General provisions. Nothing in this article shall:
26 1. Preclude a parent or guardian from having an adult volunteer, a
27 relative sixteen years of age or older, a spouse or a domestic partner
28 provide translation or interpretation services for such individual.
29 2. Be construed as preventing the school district from complying with
30 any provision of state or federal law concerning translation or inter-
32 3. Be construed as prohibiting the school district from exceeding the
33 mandates of this article, from relying upon the resources of other city,
34 state or federal agencies, or from translating documents into, or
35 providing interpretation services in, languages other than the covered
37 4. Be construed as prohibiting the school district from utilizing
38 BOCES as a designated agency to administer the program set forth in this
39 article or as a source of financial aid for such program.
40 5. Require the school district to translate documents or provide
41 interpretation for matters that do not concern a student's education, or
42 that are prolix or are unintelligible.
43 6. Require the school district to translate or interpret legal docu-
44 ments not otherwise required to be translated by this chapter, includ-
45 ing, but not limited to, legal documents generated by or for use in a
46 proceeding not held by the school district, except to provide upon
47 request a general explanation of the nature of such documents if such
48 documents concern the public education of the parent's or guardian's
50 § 3. Severability clause. If any clause, sentence, paragraph, subdivi-
51 sion, section or part of this act shall be adjudged by any court of
52 competent jurisdiction to be invalid, such judgment shall not affect,
53 impair, or invalidate the remainder thereof, but shall be confined in
54 its operation to the clause, sentence, paragraph, subdivision, section
55 or part thereof directly involved in the controversy in which such judg-
56 ment shall have been rendered. It is hereby declared to be the intent of
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1 the legislature that this act would have been enacted even if such
2 invalid provisions had not been included herein provided it does not
3 materially alter the effect of this legislation.
4 § 4. This act shall take effect on the one hundred eightieth day after
5 it shall have become a law.