Department of Education investigates LAUSD's ESL services

The U.S. Department of Education will announce today that it is launching an investigation into whether the Los Angeles Unified School District provides adequate services to students learning English.

The action, which will focus on the LAUSD's compliance with federal civil rights law, will be announced this afternoon at a news conference in Los Angeles by Russlynn Ali, assistant secretary for civil rights at the Department of Education.

Los Angeles Unified thus will become the first target of a major investigation by the Department of Education's newly revamped Office for Civil Rights, which is expected to focus on whether the nation's second-largest district provides adequate services to students learning English.

Federal officials turned their attention to the LAUSD because so many English learners fare poorly and because they make up about a third of district enrollment, more than 220,000 students, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"This is about helping kids receive a good education, the education they deserve," Ali told The Times prior to today's news conference.

L.A. school officials said they welcomed the federal examination.

The probe will provide outside evaluation to help the district identify and expand successful programs, Superintendent Ramon Cortines told The Times. "And if there are egregious areas of misconduct by the district, I will move on it immediately."