Two Egyptian nationals who immigrated to the United States with their mother enrolled in school and began attending the third grade. Approximately three weeks after enrollment, they were removed from third grade and placed in second grade. The district stated that the reason for the removal was because the students underwent assessments of their academic abilities to determine whether they were appropriately placed. Their third grade teachers determined that the results of these assessments and their observations of the students showed that they were not academically suited for the third grade.
After the assessments, teachers met with the students’ mother to discuss their difficulties with the third-grade curriculum. Both teachers claimed that, as a result of the meeting, it was decided that it would be best for both students to be placed in the second grade to finish the school year.
The mother sent a letter about the removal to the board of trustees. She met with the principal, interim associate superintendent, and another associate superintendent. At the meeting, the mother stated that she did not want her children accelerated to the next grade. Instead, she stated that she wanted an investigation opened into their initial removal from the third grade. In response, she was told that the district had already investigated the removal and determined that it was appropriate.
The mother filed suit in federal court, alleging that the district had discriminated against the students based on their national origin and had denied them an equal opportunity to participate in the educational process because it made no effort to overcome language barriers that the students may have had. The school district requested that the suit be dismissed and the district court did so. The mother then appealed to the court of appeals.
On appeal, the court noted that the mother did not take issue with the district’s ESL program. It pointed to the administrative rule that requires that a district evaluate and place an out-of-country transfer student in appropriate classes promptly. It noted that the mother did not attempt to introduce any evidence to show that third grade was actually the appropriate placement for the students. Instead, she was arguing that once the students were placed in third grade, they were entitled to remain in third grade. The court of appeals rejected this argument and affirmed the decision of the district court to dismiss the lawsuit.