The Fifth Circuit’s 2010 decision in United States v. Texas, a case with a forty-year history, represents an unfortunate failure of the defendants, the State of Texas and the Texas Education Agency (TEA), to provide equivalent educational opportunities to students with diverse backgrounds. The court incorrectly held, despite data indicating defendants’ substandard monitoring of Limited English Proficient (LEP) programs and poor academic performance by LEP students, that insufficient evidence existed to show that defendants had violated the Equal Educational Opportunity Act (EEOA). This decision was erroneous for several reasons. First, the Fifth Circuit mistakenly concluded that the trial court’s analysis of the EEOA claim should have necessarily included an assessment of individual school districts. Second, the Fifth Circuit incorrectly determined that the trial court abused its discretion in relying on student data offered by the plaintiffs. Finally, equity and policy concerns weigh in favor of the plaintiffs prevailing here. For these reasons, the Fifth Circuit’s decision as to the plaintiffs’ EEOA claim should be overturned.
Cristin Lee Hedman, School Law – The Fifth Circuit Prolongs Educational Inequalities in United States v. Texas, 64 SMU L. Rev. 779 (2011)