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The New York City Department of Education (DOE) educates over 1.1 million pre-kindergarten to grade 12 students in over 1,700 schools. Students and their parents communicate in over 180 different languages. It is the responsibility of the DOE to ensure that all parents are given a meaningful opportunity to participate in their child’s education program. The DOE has developed this Language Access Plan to ensure the provision of appropriate translation and interpretation services for limited English proficient (LEP) parents are in accordance with Chancellor’s Regulation A-663.
Chancellor’s Regulation A-663 establishes procedures for ensuring that LEP parents are provided with a meaningful opportunity to participate in and have access to programs and services critical to their child’s education. Chancellor’s Regulation A-663 requires language services in the nine most common languages other than English spoken by parents of New York City school children. Based on the DOE’s Home Language Identification Survey these languages are Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Urdu (hereinafter referred to as the “covered languages”). These languages, including English, account for over 95% of student households. Support in additional languages is available through contracted vendors. The regulation sets forth requirements for:
The Translation and Interpretation (T & I) Unit is responsible for spearheading all efforts related to language access at the DOE. It operates within the Division of Family and Community Engagement (FACE) to ensure that language access is a key consideration in all parental engagement initiatives and communications. The Unit:
A. Interpretation Chancellor’s Regulation A-663 requires that the DOE provide interpretation services, either at the school/office where the parent is seeking assistance or by telephone, to the maximum extent practicable, during regular business hours to parents whose primary language is a covered language and who request such services in order to communicate with the DOE regarding critical information about their child’s education. Over-the-phone interpretation services are available to all schools and offices during regular business hours in over 150 languages. These services can be accessed by contacting the T & I Unit but are provided by a contracted vendor. Language identification is done by either:
Interpretation services also must be provided at the following citywide meetings:
These events are conducted throughout the City and are typically covered with interpreters from a contracted vendor. Languages to be provided are pre-identified by either:
B. Translation Chancellor’s Regulation A-663 requires that documents produced by central DOE offices and schools which contain critical information regarding a child’s education must be translated into the covered languages. Documents containing critical information that are translated include, but are not limited to, the following areas:
The T & I Unit is responsible for translating the majority of these documents into the covered languages. Translations into non-covered languages are obtained from qualified contracted vendors. All of the translation work produced by the T & I Unit is translated by DOE employed translators and go through a quality control review before being finalized. DOE translators are aided by translation tools, such as translation memory software, bilingual glossaries of DOE terminology, and foreign-language style guides.
The T & I Unit distributes multilingual posters to all DOE public schools and district offices throughout the City at the beginning of each school year. Schools are required to post these posters in a highly visible location. These posters provide LEP parents instruction on where and how to obtain interpretation services. The Unit also makes available, on its website, additional multilingual signage (including directional signs) that schools and offices can download, print and post. FACE conducts spot checks on schools throughout the year to ensure that appropriate translated signs are visible to parents who visit the school. The DOE makes available to parents the Parents’ Bill of Rights and A Parent’s Guide to Special Education in the covered languages. Both documents make parents aware of their rights to languages services. These documents are distributed to parents at the beginning of each school year and can also be accessed on the DOE’s website (www.schools.nyc.gov).
Training of field staff is critical for the success of the Department of Education’s language access initiatives. Training on the requirements of Chancellor’s Regulation A-663 along with the available resources to comply with these requirements, is provided to appropriate school based staff and field personnel. The training module includes information on:
Ensuring the quality of our language services is critical to communicating effectively with our LEP parents. The T & I Unit works in collaboration with other DOE offices to rollout the following evaluation mechanisms to ensure the successful implementation of its language access initiatives:
In addition, the T & I Unit maintains records of all service requests received for written translation services, on-site interpretation services, and over-the-phone interpretation services from all DOE schools and offices.------------------------------------------------------------------------------  The term “parent” means the student’s parent(s) or guardian(s), or any person(s) in a parental or custodial relationship to the student.