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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Congress of Hispanic Educators v. School District No. 1 ED-CO-0001
Docket / Court 1:95-cv-02313-RPM ( D. Colo. )
State/Territory Colorado
Case Type(s) Education
Case Summary
In 1969 a lawsuit was brought in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado seeking desegregation of the Denver Public Schools. The Congress of Hispanic Educators and individually named Mexican-American parents of minor children attending the Denver Public Schools intervened in 1974. ... read more >
In 1969 a lawsuit was brought in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado seeking desegregation of the Denver Public Schools. The Congress of Hispanic Educators and individually named Mexican-American parents of minor children attending the Denver Public Schools intervened in 1974. Keyes v. School District No. 1, 576 F. Supp. 1503 (1983). On November 3, 1980, these intervenor-plaintiffs filed a supplemental complaint in intervention on behalf of Limited English Proficiency ("LEP") students. It alleged that the school district did not have adequate programs for students who were limited in their English proficiency. We do not have a copy of the complaint, nor of the complaint in intervention, nor of court docket sheets from that era, but the intervening plaintiffs' attorneys evidently were from the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund and Multicultural Education, Training and Advocacy (META), Inc.-California.

In a December 1983, unpublished order, District Judge Richard P. Matsch found that there were deficiencies in the defendant's school program for students of limited English-speaking abilities and ordered that they be remedied. Representatives of the plaintiffs and the school district negotiated to develop a remedy for the deficiencies found by the court. They negotiated a settlement which (a) provided a procedure for identifying and assessing needy students, (b) established standards for teachers and aides, and (c) established programmatic standards. Before the settlement went into effect, parents of students who attend the Denver Public Schools and who were "Limited English Proficient" (LEP) could review the settlement and file any objection they had to its contents. They further had a right to appear in court to voice their objections.

A hearing to approve the settlement was set for August 1984, and resulted in a language rights order issued by Judge Matsch on August 7, 1984, in Keyes v. School District No. 1. Subsequently, the District was found to have attained unitary status and the desegregation component of the action was dismissed by order of September 12, 1995; the outstanding issues pertaining to LEP students were at that time split off from the original action and assigned a new civil docket number. The settlement led to dismissal of the original case.

Judge Matsch was still assigned the matter when, on March 3, 1995, the school district filed a motion to modify the language rights order. The Congress of Hispanic Educators, as plaintiffs, responded on March 24, 1995, prompting Judge Matsch to order a scheduling conference for the case, later in the year. That conference was the prelude to a number of status conferences and reports to the court over the next four years. A February 1999 status report indicated that, with the participation of the United States, an English Language Acquisition Program had been developed for implementation in the upcoming school year. The continued talks culminated in an April 1999 proposed settlement of the case. The day after the settlement proposal was submitted to the court, the United States moved to intervene in the case as an additional plaintiff, citing the Educational Opportunities Act of 1974, 20 U.S.C. § 1701 et seq., Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2OOOd, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134, as well as these statutes' implementing regulations. The intervention motion was granted on April 21, 1999.

The United States' complaint noted a 1997 findings letter in which the District was found by the Office for Civil Rights of the United States Department of Education (DOE) to be in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, due to the District's failure to provide equal educational opportunity to LEP students. Unable to obtain voluntary compliance with these statutes and the August 1984 order, DOE had referred the matter to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), resulting in its' subsequent intervention. The intervention, however, came after the DOJ and the parties had reached a negotiated settlement. Accordingly, documents regarding the English Language Acquisition Program (ELAP) and compliance monitoring (for a three-year period by an agreed-upon monitor, Dr. Ernest House) were submitted for court approval.

A group, Padres Unidos, Inc., consisting of parents of Denver Public School students, filed objections to the proposed settlement and unsuccessfully voiced those to the court at a hearing in June 1999. On June 16, 1999, Judge Matsch approved the ELAP and monitoring plans, substituting these plans for the August 1984, order. In August of that year, the judge directed administrative closure of the case, retaining jurisdiction to review compliance issues brought to his attention.

Periodic monitoring reports were subsequently filed with the court. The case was dormant until September of 2012, when the parties filed a joint motion for an order to approve a new consent decree. In April of 2013, Judge Matsch issued an order approving the consent decree, which provided extensive accountability measures to ensure compliance with its terms. The consent degree included provisions requiring annual and semi-annual reporting by the Denver Public Schools to the U.S. Department of Justice and to the Congress of Hispanic Educators, annual multi-day visits to DPS schools by the U.S. and counsel for the CHE to monitor compliance, etc. It further required DPS to conduct its own monitoring to assess its compliance with the consent decree. The consent decree did not have a set duration.

The consent decree further provided for the appointment of an independent monitor to ascertain compliance. On a joint motion, the court appointed Dr. Paul Martinez as the Court's monitor. Dr. Martinez has entered four status reports dated February 25, 2014, October 24, 2014, June 8, 2015, and February 26, 2016. According to the latest status report, the school district has made significant progress in compliance with the consent decree and has identified the key remaining issues the district will have to address.

Mike Fagan - 06/17/2008
Kevin Nomura - 03/08/2015
Maria Ricaurte - 03/20/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Monitor/Master
Monitoring
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq.
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Defendant(s) Denver Public School System
Plaintiff Description The Congress of Hispanic Educators, with the U.S. Department of Justice intervening, on behalf of students of limited English proficiency
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1984 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Courts and Kids: Pursuing Educational Equity Through the State Courts
By: Michael Rebell (Columbia University, and Campaign for Educational Equity)
Citation: (University of Chicago Press, 2009)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:95-cv-02313-RPM (D. Colo.) 10/24/2014
ED-CO-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Opinion 01/12/1976 (423 U.S. 1066)
ED-CO-0001-0021.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Exhibit 1: A Program for Limited English Proficient Students 01/01/1983
ED-CO-0001-0017.pdf | Detail
Order for Scheduling Conference 09/12/1995 (D. Colo.)
ED-CO-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Status Report 10/01/1996
ED-CO-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Courtroom Minutes 09/12/1997
ED-CO-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Status Report 02/25/1999
ED-CO-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
Submission of Proposal to Settle Class Action 04/20/1999
ED-CO-0001-0005.pdf | Detail
United States' Motion to Intervene 04/21/1999
ED-CO-0001-0006.pdf | Detail
Complaint-In-Intervention 04/21/1999
ED-CO-0001-0018.pdf | Detail
Order Approving English Language Acquisition Program 05/16/1999 (D. Colo.)
ED-CO-0001-0007.pdf | Detail
Special Entry of Appearance and Request for Permission to Submit Written Objections and Testimony Regarding Proposed Settlement 05/28/1999
ED-CO-0001-0008.pdf | Detail
Order Approving Special Entry of Appearance of Padres Unidos, Inc. and Request for Permission to Submit Written Objections and Testimony Regarding Proposed Settlement 06/01/1999 (D. Colo.)
ED-CO-0001-0009.pdf | Detail
Courtroom Minutes 06/03/1999
ED-CO-0001-0010.pdf | Detail
Fairness Hearing Transcript of Proceedings 07/07/1999
ED-CO-0001-0011.pdf | Detail
Order for Administrative Closure 08/18/1999 (D. Colo.)
ED-CO-0001-0012.pdf | Detail
Monitor's Report on the Denver Public Schools' English Acquisition Program - Report 1 08/30/1999
ED-CO-0001-0013.pdf | Detail
Monitor's Report on the Denver Public Schools' English Language Acquisition Program: Report 2 12/13/1999
ED-CO-0001-0014.pdf | Detail
Objections and Comments of Padres Unidos, Inc. to Proposed Settlement of CHE v. School District #1, Denver 12/13/1999
ED-CO-0001-0015.pdf | Detail
Parent Bill of Rights English Acquisition Program Denver Public Schools 03/23/2007
ED-CO-0001-0016.pdf | Detail
Consent Decree 09/28/2012 (D. Colo.)
ED-CO-0001-0022.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order for Preliminary Approval of Proposed Consent Decree and for Notice of Fairness Hearing 11/20/2012 (D. Colo.)
ED-CO-0001-0019.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Approving Consent Decree (2012) with Conditions 04/16/2013 (D. Colo.)
ED-CO-0001-0020.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Independent Monitor Report - Report 3 02/28/2016
ED-CO-0001-0023.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Matsch, Richard Paul (D. Colo.)
ED-CO-0001-0001 | ED-CO-0001-0003 | ED-CO-0001-0005 | ED-CO-0001-0007 | ED-CO-0001-0009 | ED-CO-0001-0010 | ED-CO-0001-0011 | ED-CO-0001-0012 | ED-CO-0001-0013 | ED-CO-0001-0014 | ED-CO-0001-0019 | ED-CO-0001-0020 | ED-CO-0001-9000
Monitors/Masters House, Ernest R. (Colorado)
ED-CO-0001-0013 | ED-CO-0001-0014
Martinez, Paul E. (New Mexico)
ED-CO-0001-0023
Plaintiff's Lawyers Benavidez, Adrienne (Colorado)
ED-CO-0001-0008 | ED-CO-0001-0010 | ED-CO-0001-0011
Evans, Lisa (District of Columbia)
ED-CO-0001-0006 | ED-CO-0001-0010
Glassman, Jeremiah (District of Columbia)
ED-CO-0001-0006 | ED-CO-0001-0007 | ED-CO-0001-0010 | ED-CO-0001-0011 | ED-CO-0001-0018
Hernandez, Antonia (California)
ED-CO-0001-9000
Kauffman, Albert H. (Texas)
ED-CO-0001-9000
Lee, Bill Lann (District of Columbia)
ED-CO-0001-0006 | ED-CO-0001-0018
Lopez, Jane E. (Massachusetts)
ED-CO-0001-0003 | ED-CO-0001-9000
McMahan, Linda A. (Colorado)
ED-CO-0001-0006 | ED-CO-0001-0018 | ED-CO-0001-9000
Perez−Vargas, Miguel A. (Massachusetts)
ED-CO-0001-9000
Rice, Roger L. (Massachusetts)
ED-CO-0001-9000
Roos, Peter D. (California)
ED-CO-0001-0003 | ED-CO-0001-0007 | ED-CO-0001-0010 | ED-CO-0001-0011 | ED-CO-0001-9000
Rumbaut, Carmen (Texas)
ED-CO-0001-9000
Wilmot, Luis (Texas)
ED-CO-0001-9000
Woodruff, Kathryn (District of Columbia)
ED-CO-0001-0006 | ED-CO-0001-0010
Defendant's Lawyers DeHerrera, Jerome A. (Colorado)
ED-CO-0001-9000
Jackson, Michael Hodges (Colorado)
ED-CO-0001-0002 | ED-CO-0001-0003 | ED-CO-0001-0004 | ED-CO-0001-0005 | ED-CO-0001-0007 | ED-CO-0001-0010 | ED-CO-0001-0011 | ED-CO-0001-9000
Malson, Laurel Pyke (District of Columbia)
ED-CO-0001-9000
Marks, Andrew H (District of Columbia)
ED-CO-0001-9000
Neal, Phil C. (Illinois)
ED-CO-0001-0002 | ED-CO-0001-9000
Riege, Julie Ann (Colorado)
ED-CO-0001-0003 | ED-CO-0001-9000
Vana, Peter Lawrence III (Colorado)
ED-CO-0001-0010 | ED-CO-0001-9000
Other Lawyers Galleher, Watson Wheelwright (Colorado)
ED-CO-0001-9000
Pellegrino, Whitney Marin (District of Columbia)
ED-CO-0001-9000
Rocque, Amanda Adams (Colorado)
ED-CO-0001-9000
Taylor, Stephen D. (Colorado)
ED-CO-0001-9000

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