01/24/2013 01:41 pm ET

California Is Failing English Learning Students

More than 20,000 students whose first language isn’t English are not getting proper instruction according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which threatened California education officials with a lawsuit Wednesday.

Mark Rosenbaum, chief counsel of the ACLU of Southern California, said 251 school districts are failing to provide the basic instruction English learners need.

“It violates the federal law," he said. "It violates state laws that specifically state that EL services must be delivered to these children.”

He said kids who don't speak English are supposed to attend special classes until they catch up. But ACLU lawyer Jessica Price said some of the districts are in such disarray they don’t know where to begin.

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