Households file federal civil rights criticism in opposition to Wilder College District

An anonymous group of Wilder School District patrons filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education for Civil Rights on Thursday alleging that the district discriminated against students studying English and students with disabilities.

The Wilder School District is a small, mostly Latin American district on the Idaho-Oregon border. About a third of the students learn English Idaho Department of Education dataand 15 percent of students have a disability.

Wilder Superintendent Jeff Dillon moved the district to a personalized learning systemthat relies heavily on technology and self-directed learning. The program received national attention in November 2018 when Ivanka Trump and Apple CEO Tim Cook visited the district and praised the program.

Jeff Dillon

But former student parents, a former teacher, and a current student claim this system and the district guidelines. created “significant learning barriers” for English learners and students with disabilities, and when they raised those concerns to Dillon, he reciprocated them.

“The reality was that many students fell behind, failed classes and were at risk of failing to graduate due to problems in the program,” wrote Wilder Eltern EG in a statement included in the complaint.

An Idaho Legal Aid Services attorney who represents the group filed the complaint with reporters. The full names of the complainants have been edited.

In an email to reporters, Dillon said the district and board of trustees “disagree with the allegations at all”. He said the district’s federal programs are regularly reviewed by the State Department of Education and have been consistently found to be in compliance.

“Over the past six years we have sought to provide a learning system that supports each child individually, regardless of their abilities, including language needs,” wrote Dillon.

The complaint alleges that Wilder did not have a formal English Learner Identification System (ELL) and when the students were identified they did not receive adequate instruction. A former teacher wrote that in 2018 the district tested students with Latin American surnames for English proficiency, enrolled English speakers in the ELL program, and not tested numerous students for whom English was a second language. Middle and high school students assigned to ELL services “did not receive an actual ELL program,” the teacher wrote, but were asked to use an imagine learning application developed for grades K-6 students . The district requested uncertified ELL teachers to monitor and monitor student progress as per the complaint.

The group also claims that since the 2017-2018 school year, The Wilder district has not complied with the law to educate people with disabilities. The district provided “no special intervention” for students with disabilities, the complaint said. Many of these students are unable to self-teach on iPads, the complaint says, but the district has not provided the individual support they need to study.

Parents and former employees claim a culture of fear for anyone who has raised concerns about school district governance. One parent said Dillon publicly referred to parents and employees as “troublemakers”. A teacher said they withheld names of parents who emailed them concerns over fear of Dillon taking revenge on the parents.

At one point, frustrated school district residents sent their concerns to the Idaho Hispanic Affairs Commission and state superintendent for public education, Sherri Ybarra. As confirmed in a 2018 Idaho Press report, Ybarra, who was running against Dillon for the seat of superintendent at the time, cited local control and sent all complaints back to the district. Parents say this exposed the families who filed complaints.

“Mr. Dillon then used information he learned from our complaint to get revenge on the parents who complained by mistreating them and their children,” claimed EG in the statement Take a break. Middle and high school students had withdrawn their privileges. … Dr. Dillon threatened the expulsion of students and the deportation of parents with a migrant background. “

Idaho Legal Aid Services filed the complaint on behalf of the group with the Civil Rights Office of the U.S. Department of Education, urging the government to urge Wilder to improve its programs. The parents have not filed a lawsuit in a federal or regional court. The DOE Civil Rights Department investigates discrimination in public schools.

Wilder is one of the poorest school districts in Treasure Valley, and 98 percent of students come from low-income families. Student performance in the district is below state averages: In 2019, only 20 percent of K-3 students achieved good results on a fall reading test, compared to 54 percent of students across the state. Less than 20 percent of students were rated proficient on a standardized math exam in 2019, and 48 percent were rated proficient in English-language arts.

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