Lau V Nichols Case Summary

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Title of Case: Lau v. Nichols: 414 US 563 (1974) Plaintiff: Kinney Kinmon Lau Defendant: Alan Nichols, San Francisco Unified School District Setting: San Francisco, CA Major Issues Raised/What is the case about? This case examines the responsibility that a school district has to establish a program that deals with the various language issues of non-English speaking students. Kinney Lau and other non-English speaking students brought forth a lawsuit trying to force the San Francisco Unifed School District (SFUSD) to provide support for all non-English-speaking Chinese students with a bilingual education program so they could proficiently learn English. The case also attaches “strings” to school districts that receive federal financial assiatance. …show more content…

The Ninth Court also stated no constitutional nor statutory mandate existed requiring the SFUSD to provide remedial programs to students that met the qualification of being disadvantaged. However, the Supreme Court eventually stepped in. Because of the public importance of the issue in Lau v. Nichols, the Supreme Court granted certiorari. This meant the lower courts had to send all information involving the case to the Supreme Court. Then, the Supreme Court took over the case. Since the students couldn’t read or speak English proficiently, the Supreme Court ruled the SFUSD had in fact denied them their right to equal educational opportunities that were afforded to them under Section 601 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Section 601 was the sole basis for the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the students of the SFUSD. Section 601 states individuals may not be discriminated against based on race, color, or national origin in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. The Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) clarified Section 601 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. HEW issued guidelines for school districts to give students of a certain race, color, or national origin an opportunity to achieve the same education …show more content…

Nichols affected state and federal directives regarding what a school district must do in order to afford every student equal educational opportunities. So, after the Lau ruling by the Supreme Court, Congress created the Equal Educational Opportunity Act (EEOA) of 1974 and the Bilingual Education Act of 1974. Lau v. Nichols reaffirmed the rights of non-English speaking students the opportunity to receive a free and equal education. It also reaffirmed that non-English-speaking students were to be free from discriminatory practices in educational programs and services that were afforded to other students. Although Lau v. Nichols had a positive impact on the education of non-English-speaking students, the Supreme Court stopped short of making revisions that would force school district to reexamine the school board’s illegal practices. The Supreme Court didn’t give the SFUSD a clear directive regarding provisions of specific programs that would satisfy Section 601 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This shortcoming keeps the debate alive as to whether or not appropriate programs for non-English-speaking students have been implemented correctly throughout the Unites States. Discussions are still prevalent in school districts, state legislatures, and

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