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Know Your Rights
Source: Daily News
Subject: Education Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Mike Veto Doesn’t Translate: Activists

Advocates for immigrants scolded Mayor Bloomberg yesterday for vetoing a bill to increase translation services for non-English-speaking parents of public school students.

"Shame on you, Mr. Bloomberg!" Queens City Councilman Hiram Monserrate said at City Hall news conference attended by dozens of supporters. "You let politics and bureaucracy get in the way of sound, responsible policies for the students in the City of New York."

Bloomberg had vetoed the bill last week, saying it would violate state law.

The measure would require the translation of extensive school documents and notices into eight other languages besides English for the benefit of parents who speak only foreign languages, ranging from Spanish to Urdu.

In his veto message, Bloomberg contended the City Council was trying "to regulate a strictly educational subject" that can only be done by the state.

He also maintained that the Council is trying to impose a "burdensome, statutory scheme" on the city’s Education Department, which is already spending $10 million a year on translation and interpreter services.

Monserrate said the Council will move expeditiously to override the mayor’s veto.

The 51-member Council passed the bill last month by a 35-to-11 vote, with one member abstaining and four absent. It takes a minimum of 34 votes to override a veto, and the Democratic-dominated Council overrode nearly three dozen Bloomberg vetoes during the mayor’s first term.

Representatives of the New York Immigration Coalition (MRBW is part of the coalition)  joined Monserrate in pushing for an override, saying, "The bill represents an unprecedented opportunity to increase the involvement of immigrant parents in our schools."

Vlademier Epshteyn of the Metropolitan Russian-American Parents Association said: "The fight is not over, and our victory is still ahead."

Opponents of the bill also intend to renew efforts to block it.

Councilman James Oddo (R-S.I.) has praised the mayor for vetoing the bill, saying it would "harm new immigrants and their children by dissuading parents from learning English."