A presentation by the District English Language Advisory Committee (DELAC) president Guadalupe Estrada was given in Spanish at a Nov. 8 board meeting, which illustrated barriers faced by parents who do not speak English and for parents who are English language learners.
Non-English speaking parents are encouraged by the Sweetwater Union High School District Board of Education to provide public comment in future meetings. “I say this in Spanish because I want all of the parents to feel supported, and not intimidated,” Estrada said.
Interpreter services are provided for parents by the district. Estrada shared the technological inadequacies faced by parents that have caused barriers to their participation such as technological illiteracy, accessibility or insecure internet connections that create difficulties in listening to meetings from home.
Estrada credits the Director of State and Federal programs, Griselda Delgado and Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Anna Maria Alvarez for their support to parents in allocating resources, including workshops and connections to technology at local schools.
“We are moving forward with the help that we are receiving,” Estrada said.
Plans to conduct hybrid meetings for parent leadership committees are underway, according to Estrada. Due to Covid-19, parents who are involved for the first time and those who experience barriers to access will be prioritized. The committees are currently working on identifying different struggles to resolve them.
As a native English speaker, Elizabeth Yager, President of District Parent Advisory Committee addressed board members in Spanish with the aid of Estrada, who encourages her to learn the language.
“I just want to empower the parents. The parents who can't speak English face another obstacle to speak up for their children. It just got really bad with technology,” Yager said.
Parents involved in the district leadership committees provide advice to school districts and the educational boards about the needs of students to ensure educational excellence, safe environments for students and transparency.
Superintendent Dr. Moisés Aguirre said he was really heartened by Estrada's comments.
“For parents to bring their comments in Spanish are welcomed. It’s so important because what we do here is educate the next generations and that's done through our collaboration and partnerships with parents,” Aguirre said.
The next district board meeting is scheduled for Dec.13.