Principals Get a Break on Language Demands

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The Dallas school board has relaxed a policy that required elementary principals in mostly Hispanic schools to learn Spanish by 2008.

The policy adopted last year required that principals be bilingual in the language spoken by the school's students. The rule applied if half the students were limited in English proficiency.

Yesterday the board decided that a school can satisfy the requirement if an assistant principal or -- in some cases -- a counselor speaks the alternative language.

That had already been the policy for middle and high schools.

Hispanics urged the school board to maintain the policy while some blacks denounced it as unfair and racist.

The district is made up of more than 65 percent Hispanic students and 30 percent non-English-speaking students.