How do we make sure that parents who attend parent/teacher conferences get the appropriate level of interpreting services? Is school staff aware of the process required to obtain services?
Schools receive, via memorandum, the guidelines and processes for requesting interpretation services from the Language Assistance Services Unit (LASU). LASU maintains a bank of 306 interpreters in 51 languages, with 104 interpreters available in Spanish, our most commonly spoken language.
The LASU has created and rolled out to schools a Language Assistance Request Information System (LARIS), an online system that enables schools to request, manage, and track requests for interpreters. All 205 schools (including special schools/centers) and 24 offices (634 staff members) have been trained on LARIS.
During peak times, it is challenging to accommodate the many interpretation requests from schools. Therefore, the LASU adjusts its schedule and modifies the time allocated to each school. For example, the LASU receives a very high volume of requests for interpreters to provide translation services for parent-teacher conferences. To ensure that interpreters are available to support all schools, LASU provides a maximum of four hours of support per language requested by a school during this peak period. If an interpreter is not available at a specific time on the conference day, schools are encouraged to use the Language Line or the Montgomery County Government Volunteer Language Bank. Contact information for these additional resources is provided to the school requestor so that interpretation services can be secured.
Schools are encouraged to submit their request in a timely manner. However, when parents need interpretation support for unscheduled meetings, schools may utilize the Language Line or a staff member in the building.