AALDEF Commends Iowa School District's Decision to Restore Honors and Reclassify Laotian American Student As English Proficient

Wednesday, Apr 8, 2009

Honors student previously disciplined for protesting English Language Learner testing

New York, NY — In a welcome but abrupt about face, Storm Lake School District has reclassified Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) client Lori Phanachone as English proficient and restored her National Honor Society membership. After stripping the 3.98 GPA student’s National Honor Society membership for refusing an English Language Learner (ELL) test, the school district has met AALDEF’s demand to restore her membership. The district has also met AALDEF’s demand to reclassify Ms. Phanachone as English proficient.

Khin Mai Aung, Ms. Phanachone’s attorney at AALDEF, said: “Storm Lake is finally moving in the right direction by reclassifying Lori as English proficient, and restoring her hard earned National Honors Society membership. We are thrilled about this development, but continue to seek assurances from Storm Lake on other pending matters.”

Ms. Phanachone was mislabeled an ELL for naming Lao as her home language, without an English proficiency assessment, when she moved to Storm Lake two years ago. Ms. Phanachone has since been subjected to yearly ELL testing while excelling in advanced courses taught in English. This year, she boycotted a yearly ELL test in protest, resulting in a 3-day suspension, exclusion from extracurriculars and loss of her National Honor Society membership.

Lori Phanachone said: “We still need a lot of answers, but I feel really good that my academic honors have been restored, and I no longer have to worry about being classified as an ELL.”

Among other things, the following demands by AALDEF are still pending with Storm Lake School District:

  • Remove all references to Lori Phanachone’s suspension and other disciplinary action from her school records;
  • Assure in writing that it will not impose further disciplinary action on her;
  • Clarify Storm Lake’s procedures for classifying students as ELL upon enrollment; and
  • Explain how and why Lori Phanachone was initially classified as an ELL under Storm Lake’s classification procedures.

For more information:
Khin Mai Aung
Staff Attorney
212.966.5932 ext. 219


Feb. 25: DACA renewal and immigration know your rights clinic at Brooklyn Law School


New AALDEF guidance on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)


Remembering AALDEF board member Vivian Cheng-Khanna,1955-2017


2017 AALDEF exit poll: 2,538 Asian American voters polled in 4 states: VA, NJ, NY, MA


Nov. 15-16: AALDEF calls on Asian Americans to mobilize in DC for a clean DREAM Act


Feb. 15, 2018: AALDEF lunar new year gala honoring Preet Bharara, Linda Greenhouse, and Chan Lee


Oct. 1: DACA renewal clinic at Flushing Library


AALDEF denounces ending of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals; new DACA fact sheet


Federal appeals court upholds ruling in AALDEF case that Texas election law violates Voting Rights Act


AALDEF denounces introduction of RAISE Act to restrict legal imigration


AALDEF exit poll presentations in Miami, Las Vegas, Atlanta & San Diego


AALDEF statement on the president's voter fraud commission


Screening of new PBS film "Chinese Exclusion Act" and Q&A with Ric Burns and Li-shin Yu on May 23


New AALDEF report: The Asian American Vote in 2016


AALDEF joins amicus brief in State of Hawaii's challenge to revised Trump travel ban


AALDEF condemns Trump Administration's revamped anti-immigrant travel ban


AALDEF joins Korematsu Center amicus brief in challenge to Trump travel ban in Brooklyn federal court