A former Chippewa Valley Schools parent has filed a lawsuit against the district after her son was put into English second language courses through seventh grade despite English being the only language he speaks.

A former Chippewa Valley Schools parent has filed a lawsuit against the district after her son was put into English second language courses through seventh grade despite English being the only language he speaks.

Photo by Donna Agusti

Former district parent files lawsuit against Chippewa Valley Schools

By: Joshua Gordon | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published October 23, 2017

CLINTON TOWNSHIP/MACOMB TOWNSHIP — A former Chippewa Valley Schools parent has filed a civil lawsuit against the district and two employees, alleging her son was improperly placed in English second language courses, even though English is the only language her son speaks.

Plaintiff Kim Molnar claims in the lawsuit filed Oct. 9 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan that her now 13-year-old son, not named in the suit, was enrolled in kindergarten in 2009 at Cherokee Elementary School and she had to fill out a state language survey.

Molnar said her son was adopted from Guatemala, where he was born, as an infant and only speaks English. On the form, which was submitted as evidence, Molnar put her son’s country of origin and answered three questions with an “X” stating her son does speak English, no other language is spoken in the home, and he did not need bilingual assistance.

Molnar left the first question blank that asked whether her son’s native language was was anything other than English. However, when the form was brought back out this year, there was a check mark for yes on the first question with “Tribal – Guatemala – Guiche – language” written in for the language, which Molnar denies doing.

Molnar states in the suit she did not become aware of the fraudulent modifications until this year and alleges a district employee made the changes without her knowledge.

Because of the paperwork, Molnar’s son was assigned to the district’s English Learner Program and was routinely pulled out of his regular classes to attend the program and undergo testing. Molnar first learned of her son being pulled for the program during the 2010-11 school year and at that time met with Maria Chisholm, who was in charge of special grant programs for the district.

Molnar alleges she demanded her son be pulled from the program and Chisholm refused to discontinue the assignment. Chisholm and Edward Skiba, an assistant superintendent with the district, are both named as co-defendants in the suit.

“In the last year, (Molnar) learned for the first time the form she submitted had been altered without her permission, consent or knowledge,” said Christina Baskas, one of Molnar’s attorneys. “It was at that point she realized something more had been going on. She complained throughout these past eight years.”

Along with being pulled for the program throughout elementary school, Molnar’s son was also subjected to mandatory World Class Instructional Design and Assessment testing each year, according to the lawsuit. Molnar alleges being forced into the program and testing resulted in “mortification and embarrassment” for her son.

On Sept. 6, 2016, when the student was starting seventh grade at Wyandot Middle School, Molnar said she told Chisholm her son should not be pulled from his regular classes for the program, yet on Feb. 9 of this year, her son told her Wyandot principal Darleen Gauci forced him to take the WIDA test, according to the lawsuit.

On Feb. 10, Molnar met with Chisholm at the district’s administration offices at which time the original state language survey was brought out and she saw someone had modified it. Molnar alleges Chisholm noted the modifications and that they were not done by Molnar.

Molnar informed the district she would hire an attorney and was contacted by Skiba, who Molnar alleges said actions could be taken to “make this go away” and that someone from Cherokee must have filled in the missing parts on the survey. Molnar said she would not be part of the scheme, according to the lawsuit.

On Feb. 22, Molnar said Pamela Jones, director of curriculum and assessment with the district, contacted her and said she was in contact with the Michigan State Board of Education and her son’s file was marked with a false survey and continuously apologized, according to the lawsuit.

“While we cannot comment on the specifics of this pending complaint, we can say that Chippewa Valley Schools adheres to all state and federal guidelines,” Chippewa Valley Superintendent Ron Roberts said. “We take great pride in the outstanding programs and services that we offer to our school community, and we take concerns like this very seriously.

“Rest assured, we always strive to do what is in the best interest of our students and their families.”

Molnar’s son completed seventh grade at Wyandot Middle School and transferred to a new school district for the 2017-18 school year. Baskas would not say if this was as a result of the lawsuit.

The school district has yet to file a response to the complaint. Molnar is seeking compensatory, exemplary and punitive damages from the district.