Department of education updates

Department of education updates

 

New Updates Since Last Newsletter

Lodi Unified School District, CA:

On August 24, OCR entered into a resolution agreement with the Lodi Unified School District in Lodi, California to end the racially discriminatory impact of the district’s discipline policies and address concerns that it disciplines black students more harshly than white students.

OCR found that Lodi’s discipline policy, while neutral on its face and not adopted with discriminatory intent, had a disproportionate impact on black students and was not necessary to meet the district’s educational goals, thereby violating Title VI. Specifically, the district permitted individual schools to develop and impose different consequences for discipline incidents than described in the district’s Conduct Code.

These school site deviations not only undermine Lodi’s stated educational goal of consistency in discipline practices, but also permit district-wide disparities in discipline practices for black students in contrast with white students. Schools with higher percentages of black students established harsher punishment for discipline incidents and black students received disproportionately higher levels of discipline than white students.

OCR found that black students were overrepresented at almost every level of discipline to a statistically significant degree – from referral to in-school-suspension, out-of-school suspension, expulsion, and citation – every year analyzed, including each of the four school-years from 2011 to 2015.

A press release is available at go.usa.gov/xKzgc. The resolution letter is available at go.usa.gov/xKzgr and a copy of the agreement is available at go.usa.gov/xKzg4.

Back to School Bus Tour:

In September, U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr. boarded the bus for the Administration’s final Back to School bus tour (go.usa.gov/xKzgT), titled “Opportunity Across America” of the American Southeast. Over five days, Secretary King and senior Department officials held 13 events in 11 cities and six states, speaking on a variety of issues, including language access, classroom diversity, access to education, and school discipline. Additionally, senior Department officials travelled across the country (go.usa.gov/xKzgD) for events on similar themes. The tour web site (go.usa.gov/xKzgj) has many stories, pictures, and videos chronicling the tour, and the Department posted on the social journalism blog, Medium, a series of fact sheets highlighting the nation’s educational progress over the last eight years. The fact sheets, with infographics, cover:

Trauma-Informed Approaches in School: Supporting Girls of Color and Rethinking Discipline:

On September 19, the White House Council on Women and Girls, U.S. Department of Education, and Georgetown University Law Center on Poverty and Inequality hosted a conference at the White House called, “Trauma-Informed Approaches in School: Supporting Girls of Color and Rethinking Discipline” (go.usa.gov/xKzg8) where Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr. and Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon, among others, gave remarks on improving school systems’ approach to better serve girls of color who have experienced trauma. Despite progress made over recent years in academic achievement, access and school support, girls, and particularly girls of color, continue to disproportionately face barriers in education.  The conference brought together state and district teams, key researchers and experts, nonprofit partners, community organizers, and Administration officials who share a commitment to promoting policies and practices, such as Title VI enforcement, that support the needs and potential of underserved populations, including marginalized girls, young women, and their families.

Guidance on Providing Effective Services to English Learners Through Title III of the Every Student Succeeds Act:

On September 23, the Department released non-regulatory guidance (go.usa.gov/xKz4C) to help states, districts, and schools provide effective services to improve the English language proficiency and academic achievement of English Learners (ELs) through Title III of the Every Student Succeeds Act. This guidance is an effort to ensure that students who are English learners receive the high-quality services they need to be college and career ready. Among other topics, the guidance touches upon: use of Title III funds to serve ELs; design and delivery of language instruction educational programs - which include educators of ELs; information on parent, family, and community engagement; information on distinct populations of ELs, including early learners, former ELs, immigrant students, and ELs who are also students with disabilities; and publications and resources for administrators and educators who work with ELs. The guidance clarifies that all services provided to ELs using Title III funds must supplement, and not supplant, the services that must be provided to ELs under Title VI.

Resources for Schools, Colleges to Ensure Appropriate Use of School Resource Officers and Campus Police:

On September 9, to assist states, schools, and their law enforcement partners in assessing the proper role of school resource officers (SROs) and campus law enforcement professionals, both the U.S. Department of Education and the DOJ’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services released letters to states and districts (go.usa.gov/xKzgu) emphasizing the importance of well-designed SRO programs and calling on leaders of institutions of higher education to commit to implementing recommendations from the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing (go.usa.gov/xKzgJ) in the campus policing context.

To assist in the K-12 context, the Departments also jointly released the Safe School-based Enforcement through Collaboration, Understanding, and Respect (SECURe) Rubrics (go.usa.gov/xKzgS). These new resources can help education and law enforcement agencies that use SROs to review and, if necessary, revise SRO-related policies in alignment with common-sense action steps that can lead to improved school safety and better outcomes for students while safeguarding their civil rights. These resources also serve to remind school leaders, campus police, and SROs to comply with nondiscrimination laws including Title VI.

Letters:

Rubrics:

U.S. Department of Education Takes Actions to Address Religious and National Origin Discrimination:

On July 22, OCR announced a series of actions to confront discrimination and promote inclusive school environments, including unveiling a new web page on religious discrimination (go.usa.gov/xKzgE), updating its online civil rights complaint form (ocrcas.ed.gov/cas.cfm) to clarify when OCR can investigate complaints of discrimination involving religion, and expanding its survey of public schools (ocrdata.ed.gov) on religious-based bullying (press release at go.usa.gov/xKzgd and blog post at go.usa.gov/xKzgv). The new web page has information about federal laws, including Title VI, that protect students from discrimination involving their religion or national origin, and links to OCR policy guidance, notable case resolutions, and resources in multiple languages and from other federal agencies.

OCR’s updated online complaint form clarifies that the office can investigate complaints regarding racial, ethnic or national origin discrimination involving religion and reaffirms that students, parents, and persons of all faiths can file such complaints with OCR even though the laws OCR enforces do not expressly address religious discrimination in education. Additionally, OCR will start collecting, through its Civil Rights Data Collection (ocrdata.ed.gov), information from every public school across the country, for the first time, on the number of incidents of religious-based bullying or harassment in their schools in the 2015-16 school year. This new collection will give stakeholders, policymakers, and educators critical data that will allow them to further understand the problem of religious discrimination and to measure progress going forward.

Further, in response to "an increasing number of incidents of anti-Semitic bullying and harassment in public schools . . . [and] reports documenting that students who are or are perceived as Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Arab, Middle Eastern, South Asian, or Southeast Asian are frequent targets of bullying and harassment," the Department adopted new regulations (go.usa.gov/xKzgw) for its Equity Assistance Centers (EACs) that will enable them, starting in October, to provide technical assistance, on request, to public school districts, students and parents, and community organizations about religious discrimination and harassment (go.usa.gov/xKzgf). A press release is available at go.usa.gov/xKzgU.

U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr.’s Statement on the U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Fisher v. University of Texas, 579 U.S. __ (2016):

"More than ever before, today's students need to be prepared to succeed in a diverse, global workforce. Diversity benefits communities, schools and students from all backgrounds, and research has shown that more diverse organizations make better decisions with better results. It is no surprise, then, that CEOs, university presidents, the military and other leaders have expressed a strong interest in increasing diversity. I am pleased that the Supreme Court upheld the University of Texas at Austin's admissions plan. The Department will continue to be a strong supporter of diversity and will work to ensure that all students benefit from school environments as diverse as America itself. As a nation, we are stronger together."  A link to the press release is available at go.usa.gov/xKzgn.

For more information on the Fisher decision and Title VI enforcement, please view the Fisher Note in the Summer Issue of the Title VI Newsletter at go.usa.gov/xkG3R.

 

Department of Education Reaches Agreement with Oklahoma City Public Schools to Address Disproportionate Discipline of African-American Students:

 

On April 20, the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) reached a settlement agreement with the Oklahoma City Public Schools of Oklahoma to address disproportionate discipline of African-American students. An investigation revealed African-American students were significantly overrepresented in disciplinary actions. Before OCR had completed its review, the district voluntarily entered into a settlement agreement to resolve the case. 

 

OCR's investigation found that African-American students were considerably overrepresented in all of the district's disciplinary actions. For example, for the 2014-15 school year, OCR's investigation revealed that African-American students accounted for 42% of in-school suspensions although they represent only 26% of the population. Likewise, for the 2011-12 school year, African-American students received in-school and out-of-school suspensions, were referred to law enforcement, and were arrested for school-related incidents at statistically significant proportions compared to their enrollment in the district.

 

During the course of OCR's investigation, the district initiated an internal audit. Both OCR's investigation and the audit found scores of concerns including: incomplete and inconsistent recordkeeping; inconsistent provision of due process rights; inconsistent discipline practices across the district; inconsistencies within individual schools themselves; inconsistencies in information provided to parents when their children were suspended; and unclear parameters of certain disciplinary sanctions, such as "defiance of authority" and "disrespect" among others.

 

In response, the district has undertaken a number of corrective steps, including initiating a review of its discipline policies and practices, and its discipline code. The district also created the Office of School Climate and Student Discipline and hired a director for the Office and three student behavioral specialists.

 

The agreement, in part:

· Designates an employee to serve as the district's discipline supervisor.

· Prohibits exclusionary discipline to the maximum extent possible.

· Requires the district to retain experts to advise the district on research-based strategies to prevent discrimination.

· Implements revised discipline policies and practices.

· Requires training for staff and administrators and programs for students and parents to explain the policies and behavioral expectations.

· Requires the district to provide teachers and administrators with the tools and training to support positive student behavior to prevent and address misconduct.

· Requires school staff to employ a range of corrective measures before referring a student to disciplinary authorities.

· Ensures a system of supports at each school to assess students who display behavior problems.

· Addresses school climate issues.

· Implements measures to engage students, staff and parents in the implementation of the revised policies, practices and procedures.

·  Requires a comprehensive review of the School Resource Officer program to assess the program's effectiveness and alignment with ensuring misbehavior is addressed in a manner that minimizes exclusionary discipline to the maximum extent possible.

·  Facilitates communication with the parent complainant should she choose to re-enroll her children.

 

For further information, please see the OCR letter (go.usa.gov/xqPDj) to the Oklahoma City Public Schools and the agreement (go.usa.gov/xqPDj).

 

Department of Education Reaches Agreement with Toledo Public Schools to Address African-American Students’ Equitable Access to Resources:

 

On January 21, ED OCR and Toledo Public Schools of Ohio announced that the district has entered into a resolution agreement to ensure compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in providing equitable resources to African-American students. 

 

The agreement, reached before OCR had completed its investigation, identifies and addresses OCR’s concerns about access to experienced teachers, teachers with master's degrees, libraries for K-8 students, and distance learning classes for high school students. The agreement acknowledges the district’s ongoing efforts to ensure equitable resources for students and students’ equitable access to resources, and other support for student success, but addresses OCR’s concerns identified during its investigation. The agreement provides that the district will:

 

· Disseminate and post a non-discrimination notice, which informs all members of the school community of their rights and the district's responsibilities under Title VI, and the procedure by which students, parents and employees may report concerns.

· Obtain OCR approval of revised policies and practices if its program assessments reveal the district's initiatives fail to ensure that equally effective and qualified teachers are equitably distributed to all district schools.

· Obtain OCR approval of revised policies and practices if its program assessments reveal the district's initiatives fail to continue to ensure that equally effective and qualified building leaders are equitably distributed to all district schools.

· Ensure that all students at the district's K-8 schools can access their schools' libraries with the same frequency and check out the same number of books.

· Deliver "live" instruction of distance learning courses, including Advanced Placement and other higher-level courses, across its high schools in a racially equitable manner; ensuring Advance Placement and other higher-level college preparatory courses are taught from the district's racially identifiable African-American high schools providing students the opportunity to engage in-person with course instructors.

· Conduct outreach activities for students and parents to better assess, provide, and monitor its distribution and allocation of resources.

 

For further information, please see the resolution letter (go.usa.gov/xqNjB) and agreement (go.usa.gov/xqNjw).

 

Departments of Education and Justice Reach Two Settlement Agreements with Arizona Department of Education to Meet the Needs of English Language Learner Students:

 

On May 2 and April 22, ED and DOJ entered into two settlement agreements with the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) to resolve its violations of Title VI and the Equal Educational Opportunities Act (EEOA) regarding its practices for identifying and exiting English language learner (ELL) students. ADE denies the violations but voluntarily entered into the agreements because the services therein are in the best interest of Arizona’s children. The agreements require ADE to increase its English proficiency criteria to properly identify ELL students in kindergarten and in grades 3 through 12 and to properly determine when those students no longer need language services. The agreements also require ADE to ensure that Arizona public schools offer language support services to thousands of students who were prematurely moved out of language services or initially identified incorrectly as fluent English proficient from the 2012-2013 school year to the present. Additionally, for ELL students who opt out of language services, ADE must ensure that those students’ English language proficiency is assessed every year until they are proficient in English. 

 

These agreements arise from monitoring by ED and DOJ of a 2012 settlement agreement with ADE that aimed to resolve their findings that ADE had under-identified and prematurely removed the ELL status and language services of tens of thousands of ELL students between 2006 and 2012. ED and DOJ will continue to monitor the implementation of both agreements through 2018.

 

For further information, please see the press release (go.usa.gov/xqPB3). Additionally, please refer to the two settlement agreement documents at go.usa.gov/xqPBm and go.usa.gov/xqPBJ

 

Department of Education Releases 2013-14 Civil Rights Data Collection:

 

On June 7, the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) unveiled the new Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) (go.usa.gov/xqExA) from the 2013-2014 school year. The CRDC shows wide gaps that still remain in key areas affecting educational equity and opportunity for students, including incidents of discipline, restraint and seclusion, access to courses and programs that lead to college and career readiness, teacher equity, rates of retention, and access to early learning. 

 

ED OCR releases the CRDC every two years to ensure transparency around the educational opportunities and experiences of millions of public school students. The 2013-14 CRDC covers more than 50 million students enrolled in nearly every school and school district in the United States.

 

The 2013-2014 CRDC collected data on several new topics for the first time, including chronic student absenteeism; access to educational programs in justice facilities; availability of distance education, including online courses; the presence of sworn law enforcement officers in schools (including school resource officers); availability of partially or fully cost-subsidized preschool; and appointment of civil rights coordinators.

 

Department of Education Releases Annual Report Citing Their Enforcement Activities:  

 

On May 4, ED OCR released its fiscal year 2015 annual report (go.usa.gov/xqPHw) highlighting efforts during the last year to protect students’ civil rights and increase educational equity nationwide. The report cites examples of OCR’s enforcement activities in 2015, including processing a record 10,392 civil rights complaints, opening more than 3,000 investigations, and reaching more than 1,000 substantive resolutions with institutions that included remedies or changes designed to protect students’ civil rights.

 

Notable cases are profiled in the report, including some related to equitable access to courses and educational opportunities, racial harassment, equal opportunity for English learners, bullying and harassment, accessible technology for students with disabilities, and sexual harassment and violence.

 

Departments of Education, Housing and Urban Development, and Transportation Host Diversity and Opportunity Listening Session for Leaders:

 

On June 8, ED, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and DOT hosted an interagency listening session for education, housing, and transportation leaders at ED’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. to help state and local leaders increase diversity in their schools and communities, and to narrow opportunity gaps. The afternoon session brought together educators, researchers and community leaders with policy experts and leaders from the three agencies to discuss voluntary, community-led strategies to promote increased diversity in schools and neighborhoods. The event included panels on the benefits of diversity, opportunities at the federal level, a case study on diversity work in action, and community planning. Attendees also heard from individuals on the front lines who are doing this work, as well as from senior officials at the three agencies who discussed opportunities to further locally-driven efforts to support diversity.

 

Departments of Education and Justice and the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Participate in a White House Roundtable on Bullying and Harassment and Publish Fact Sheet on Combating Discrimination:

 

On June 6, ED’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and DOJ’s Educational Opportunities Section of the Civil Rights Division (CRT) participated in the roundtable on bullying and harassment of Muslim, Arab, Sikh, and South Asian (MASSA) students convened by the White House. This roundtable was a continuation of a series of roundtables the President and White House have hosted with MASSA communities since December 2015. Events such as this highlight the intersection of discrimination based on race and national origin, with discrimination based on religion. ED OCR and CRT enforce Title VI (which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, and national origin) and CRT enforces Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which prohibits discrimination based on, among other things, race, color, national origin, and religion). The offices work together to address discrimination targeting MASSA and Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) students. At the event, ED OCR and CRT announced the release of a fact sheet of examples of harassment and other forms of discrimination impacting the MASSA and AANHPI communities. The fact sheet is available on the OCR and CRT websites in English (go.usa.gov/xqPFk) and other languages (go.usa.gov/xqEqj).

 

Department of Education Reaches Agreement with a California School District that Required Enrolling Students to Submit a Birth Certificate:

On October 22, the Los Fresnos Consolidated Independent School District entered into a voluntary resolution agreement to resolve the following issues under Title VI: whether the District discriminated against Mexican nationals based on national origin by requiring a birth certificate, without exception, for all students seeking to enroll in the District and whether the District fails to provide equal educational opportunities with respect to identification, assessment, and placement to national origin language-minority students who are LEP. The Office for Civil Rights will continue to monitor the District’s implementation of the Agreement and its compliance with the regulatory requirements of Title VI.

For further information about this case, please see the resolution letter (go.usa.gov/cnHz9) and agreement (go.usa.gov/cnHuY).

 

Department of Education Resolves Three Complaints Against the Newark, New Jersey Public Schools Consolidation Plan:

On December 9, the Office for Civil Rights entered into a voluntary resolution agreement with Newark Public Schools to resolve three separate complaints against the District. The complaints alleged that the District discriminated against African-American and Hispanic students and students with disabilities by closing several schools at the end of school year 2011-2012; that the District discriminated against African-American and Hispanic students by closing Roseville Avenue Elementary School at the end of school year 2013-2014; and that the District discriminated against African-American students by enacting the “One Newark” plan to close thirteen neighborhood public schools at the end of school year 2013-2014. In the resolution agreement, the District agreed to:

  • Develop and complete an assessment of the academic performance of transferring students.          
  • Compare the academic performance of transferring students at the receiving schools to other students to ensure that effective academic supports are provided.
  • Develop and complete an assessment of transportation services provided to transferring students.
  • Develop and complete an assessment of pupil capacity and the availability of facilities/resources at the receiving schools.
  • Convene a group of knowledgeable persons to complete an assessment of the continuation of services to transferring students with disabilities.
  • Provide compensatory services to all transferred students with disabilities determined to need such services.

OCR will continue to monitor the District’s implementation of the Agreement and its compliance with the regulatory requirements of Title VI, Section 504, and Title II.

 

DOJ and Department of Education File a Brief to Ensure Meaningful Access for LEP Parents of Students with Disabilities:

On January 25, DOJ and the Department of Education filed a brief to advise the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania about the appropriate legal standards applicable to school districts under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974 (EEOA) for communicating with LEP parents. The brief seeks to ensure that school districts afford LEP parents of students with disabilities the opportunity to meaningfully participate in the development of their children’s education programs. In their lawsuit, the LEP parents of students with disabilities allege that the Philadelphia School District intentionally discriminates against them based on their national origin, in violation of Title VI, by systematically failing to provide timely and complete translations and interpretation of educational materials (e.g., individualized educational plans).

 

The brief explains that the plaintiffs adequately alleged intentional national origin discrimination under the framework established by Arlington Heights and the Third Circuit’s standard for deliberate indifference under Title VI. The brief further supports plaintiffs’ claims that the School District violated the EEOA by failing to take appropriate action to overcome the language barriers of LEP parents and thereby denied their children the ability to participate equally in the District’s instructional programs.

 

The brief is available at LEP.gov (go.usa.gov/cEQEe).

 

Department of Education Releases Guidance on Implementing CDC’s Ebola Guidance for Schools while Protecting the Civil Rights of Students and Others: 

The Department of Education released a fact sheet on December 15, 2014, explaining that in implementing the Center for Disease Control’s guidance on Ebola, school districts must avoid discrimination, including bullying and harassment, on the basis of actual or perceived race, color, national origin, or disability, and must take immediate and appropriate action to such discrimination (at: go.usa.gov/JR9H).

 

Tupelo Public School District Agrees to Address School Discipline Inequity Concerns Amid ED-OCR Investigation: 

On September 25, 2014, OCR resolved a compliance review of the Tupelo Public School District which investigated the District’s disciplinary policies and practices and, specifically, whether the District discriminated against African-American students by disciplining them more frequently and more harshly than other similarly situated students on the basis of race. Prior to the conclusion of OCR’s investigation, the District entered into an agreement through which the District commits to take specific actions to ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to learn in school.

 

Letter: go.usa.gov/JR8w

Agreement: go.usa.gov/JR8Q

 

Voluntary Resolution Agreement Addresses School Discipline Inequity in Minneapolis Public Schools

On November 20, 2014, OCR announced the successful resolution of a compliance review concerning student discipline in the Minneapolis Public School District, the largest school system in Minnesota. OCR’s investigation found that African-American students were considerably overrepresented in all of the district’s disciplinary actions, including out-of-school suspensions, in-school suspensions, administrative transfers to other schools, referrals to law enforcement as well as detentions, Saturday school, and community service or restitution. Through a voluntary resolution agreement, which the District signed prior to the completion of OCR's investigation, the District committed to take specific actions to ensure that it implements fair and equitable discipline policies and practices.

 

Letter: go.usa.gov/JR8B

Agreement: go.usa.gov/JR8Y

 

Resolution Agreement Aims to Improve Minority Access to Enrichment Programs and Advanced Placement Courses: 

On October 28, 2014, OCR resolved a compliance review of the South Orange & Maplewood School District, New Jersey. OCR’s investigation revealed that there was a statistically significant disproportionate underrepresentation of African-American students participating in the District’s middle and high school enrichment programs and advanced placement courses. The agreement requires the District to take specific actions, including retention of a consultant with expertise in addressing the underrepresentation of African-American students in college and career preparatory courses and development of a plan for implementing recommendations made by the consultant.

 

Letter: go.usa.gov/JRkJ

Agreement: go.usa.gov/JRkA

 

ED OCR Addresses Discrimination Against English Language Learning Students, and students with Disabilities, with Resolution Agreement:

On November 26, 2014, OCR resolved a compliance review of the Harmony Public Schools which examined whether the recipient was providing English Learners (EL) and students with disabilities equal access to and equal opportunity to participate in the Harmony charter schools in Texas. OCR’s investigation revealed that in the 2011-12 school year, the enrollment rate of EL students at the Harmony charter schools was approximately half that at the local school districts and the enrollment rate of students with disabilities was even lower. The investigation uncovered admissions and enrollment policies and practices that may explain the dramatically lower enrollment rates of EL students and students with disabilities, including policies that allow for the exclusion of students with disciplinary problems, and require students to provide enrollment documentation that may discourage the participation of students based on their or their parents’ or guardian’s citizenship or immigration status. The resulting resolution agreement requires the recipient to take specific actions to ensure equitable treatment of EL students and students with disabilities, including modification of admissions policies and practices, as needed.

 

Letter: go.usa.gov/JRkm

Agreement: go.usa.gov/JRkT

    

Departments of Education and Justice Release Guidance Concerning the Applicability of Federal Civil Rights Laws to Juvenile Justice Residential Facilities: 

The Departments of Education and the Justice issued a Dear Colleague Letter on December 8, 2014, concerning the applicability of federal civil rights laws to juvenile justice residential facilities. The letter provides a reminder that juvenile justice residential facilities receiving federal funds are subject to the same federal civil rights obligations as all other public schools, and highlights some of the legal requirements related to access to academic coursework and career and vocational training, students with disabilities, English language learners, and the administration of discipline (at: go.usa.gov/JRXP). 

 

Department of Education Reaches Agreement with Michigan School District:

On April 21, 2015, OCR resolved a complaint against Pickney Community School District alleging that minority students were being harassed by other students based on their race and/or national origin and that District staff and administrators were made aware of the harassment but failed to take appropriate action to stop the conduct.  OCR found that the District was aware of but failed to appropriately address an ongoing hostile climate at the high school based on race and national origin. 

 

Click through to read the Resolution letter and the Resolution agreement in this case.

Department of Education Addresses Lack of Language Services in Ohio School District During a Teacher Strike:

On May 27, 2015, OCR resolved a class complaint against the Reynoldsburg City School District alleging that the District discriminated against English Language Learners (EL students) on the basis of national origin by failing to provide alternative language services during a teachers strike at the District from September 19 to October 9, 2014.  Prior to the completion of OCR’s investigation, the District indicated its willingness to address any loss of EL intervention services to the approximately 486 EL students.  The settlement agreement requires the District to offer remedial services consistent with the students’ EL intervention plans to each affected EL student.  The agreement also requires the District to revise its work stoppage procedures to prevent service disruption for EL students in the event of a future teacher strike or other work stoppage, and following OCR approval, to publicize the revised procedures. 

 

Click through to read the Resolution letter and the Resolution agreement in this case.

Department of Education Secretary Duncan and Assistant Secretary Lhamon Highlight Exceptional Efforts to Remedy Discrimination by Colorado Recipient: 

In a June 2015 blog post, entitled Colorado District Delivers Civil Rights Change, Secretary Arne Duncan and Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon recognized the leadership of Colorado’s Adams County School District 14 Superintendent Patrick Sánchez.  In response to concerns that the district’s practices resulted in a hostile environment, Superintendant Sánchez has led efforts to improve school climate.

 

 

Department of Education Addresses Race/National Origin Discrimination in Huntington Beach, CA, Schools:

Resolved on January 16, 2015, this case involved allegations of peer harassment based on race/national origin and disability and whether the District failed to respond appropriately to notice of the harassment. OCR’s investigation yielded troubling information about student name-calling and harassing activity and the District failing to investigate some incidents or take corrective action  and failing to identify whether the bullying affected implementation of the student’s free appropriate public education services.

 

Prior to the conclusion of OCR’s investigation, the District entered into a voluntary agreement requiring it to develop and implement a plan to assess and monitor the climate at the school; provide investigative training to District and school administrators; to provide student instruction about harassment; and to communicate with parents the District’s prohibition of harassment. The agreement also obligates the District to assess the potential effects of bullying on the student’s learning and to ensure the student has sufficient supports to address disability-based challenges in socializing with peers.

 

Resolution letter: go.usa.gov/3ZjVT

Resolution agreement: go.usa.gov/3ZjV9

 

 

Department of Education Completes Compliance Review, Examining Discriminatory Harassment Against Students in Yakima, WA:

On February 3, 2015, OCR resolved a compliance review of the Yakima School District, Washington, with a comprehensive resolution agreement. OCR examined whether the District has taken appropriate action to address harassment of students on the bases of sex, race, color, national origin, and disability. After identifying relatively high rates of bullying in the District, OCR found that the District had violated Title VI and other federal civil rights laws by failing to provide nondiscrimination notices or procedures for prompt and equitable resolution of student or employee complaints, failing to provide what steps the District must take to address the harassment, and for failing to maintain sufficient records to allow OCR to determine whether a hostile environment exists for students based on sex, race, color, national origin and/or disability.

 

Under the agreement, the District agreed to take the following actions: promptly investigate all incidents of harassment based on sex, race, color, national origin, and disability of which it has notice; take appropriate action to end the harassment, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects where appropriate; hire or assign an equity consultant to assist with the District’s implementation of the agreement; create a non-discrimination and anti-harassment statement that complies with Title IX, Title VI, Section 504 and Title II; provide effective notice of the statement to students, parents, employees and third parties; establish grievance procedures compliant with Title IX, Title VI, Section 504 and Title II; provide effective notice of the procedures to students, parents, employees and third parties; designate compliance coordinators and provide effective notice of the coordinators to students, parents, employees and third parties; conduct annual school climate checks related to harassment incidents; create a task force to suggest strategies for dealing with harassment in schools; train staff and coordinators on obligations related to identifying, reporting, investigating, and taking appropriate action in response to harassment incidents; train students on recognizing and reporting harassment; create a system for investigating, record-keeping and tracking complaints and incidents of harassment; and create a system for monitoring the effectiveness of its response to harassment and conducting a self-assessment.

 

Resolution letter: go.usa.gov/3ZjVm

Resolution agreement: go.usa.gov/3ZjVA

 

ED and DOJ Release Guidance Concerning Schools’ Obligations to Ensure English Learner Students Have Equal Access to High-Quality Education:

The U.S. Departments of Education and Justice released joint guidance on January 7, 2015, reminding states, school districts, and schools of their obligations under federal law to ensure that English learner (EL) students have equal access to a high-quality education and the opportunity to achieve their full academic potential. The guidance (also available in Spanish, Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Vietnamese, and Tagalog), two fact sheets (also available in Spanish, Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Cambodian, Hmong, Korean, Laotian, Russian, Vietnamese, and Tagalog), and other resources are available on OCR’s EL Students and LEP Parents homepage and at go.usa.gov/3Zjpw. The Department of Education also released a new feature within the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) that allows users to pull detailed information on EL students by school and school district from any 2011-12 CRDC report. The CRDC is available at http://ocrdata.ed.gov/.

 

 

ED-OCR Addresses Disparities in Minority Educational Opportunities with Resolution Agreement:

On August 18, 2014, OCR issued a Resolution Letter formally accepting the Resolution Agreement signed by the School District to resolve a Title VI compliance review assessing whether the Lynchburg City School Division discriminates against black students by failing to provide them with the same resources and educational opportunities that it provides to white students to prepare them for postsecondary education and/or careers.

 

Letter: http://go.usa.gov/wgTA

Agreement: http://go.usa.gov/wgTJ

 

Findings of Title VI Noncompliance in Advanced Placement and Gifted and Talented Programs Results in Resolution Agreement:

On July 24, 2014, OCR issued a Letter of Findings (LOF) to close the investigative phase of its compliance review of the Elk Grove Unified School District, CA, after obtaining a signed Resolution Agreement to address OCR’ s finding of noncompliance. The LOF explained OCR’s findings of noncompliance under Title VI, based on disparate impact on the basis of race with respect to access to the District’s Gifted and Talented Education program (GATE) and honors and Advanced Placement (AP) courses. The Elk Grove Unified School District is the fifth largest school district in California, serving over 60,000 students at 64 schools. The district also serves the fifth largest black student population in California, with over 9,000 black students.

 

Letter: http://go.usa.gov/wgjH

Agreement: http://go.usa.gov/wgjh

 

Resolution Agreement Provides LEP Families with Improved Access to Orleans Parish Schools:

On July 23, 2014, OCR issued a Resolution Letter formally accepting the Resolution Agreement signed by the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) in order to resolve a complaint alleging that OPSB discriminates against limited English proficient (LEP) parents, specifically, Vietnamese and Spanish speakers whose children attend Einstein Charter School, Einstein Charter Extension and Benjamin Franklin High School, on the basis of their national origin, by failing to: translate important documents and notices pertaining to students’ education and safety into LEP parents’ native languages; and provide qualified interpreters to LEP parents during school events, teacher conferences, and at school front offices.

 

Letter: http://go.usa.gov/wgBe

Agreement: http://go.usa.gov/wgKx

 

Resolution Agreement Ensures LEP Families Are Provided Robust Protections from National Origin Discrimination:

On July 9, 2014, the Departments of Education and Justice issued a Resolution Letter accepting a comprehensive Resolution Agreement with the Jefferson Parish Public School System (District) to resolve complaints alleging that: the District’s policies and practices regarding the documentation needed for student registration, enrollment, and graduation discriminated against national origin minority students; the District does not provide national origin-minority parents with limited English proficiency the information provided to other parents in a language they understand; and that the District failed to take prompt and effective action to respond to harassing conduct creating a hostile environment for Latino students based on national origin, of which the District knew or should have known.

 

Letter: http://go.usa.gov/wgKj

Agreement: http://go.usa.gov/wgK5

En Español: http://go.usa.gov/wgKV

 

ED-OCR Resolves Complaint Alleging Hostile Work Environment for Hispanic Staff and Students:

On April 25, 2014, OCR resolved a Title VI complaint alleging the Adams County 14 School District (District) is a hostile environment for Hispanic staff and students. The complaint further alleged that the District fails to communicate effectively in a language and manner that with parents who are limited English proficient (LEP) can understand. OCR’s investigation found: that a hostile environment existed for Hispanic staff and students; that the District administration and school board had notice of the hostile environment; and that the District administration and school board failed to take action to eliminate and remedy the hostile environment. Additionally, OCR found that the District does not effectively communicate with LEP parents in a language and manner that they understand.

 

Letter: http://go.usa.gov/wgk4

Agreement: http://go.usa.gov/wgkP

 

Department of Education Issues Guidance Urging Schools to Ensure Equity of Services and Facilities Pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964:

On October 1, 2014, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (ED-OCR) issued guidance urging schools to monitor policies and facilities to ensure that they are distributed to students in compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The guidance notes that while students need not have identical resources, they must have equal access to comparable programs, materials and facilities under Title VI. Data shows that African American students are four times more likely to attend schools where their teachers do not meet all the requirements for state teaching certifications and that schools with higher concentrations of minorities are more likely to have temporary classrooms in portable buildings. ED-OCR advises that schools collect data on course offerings; gifted and preschool programs; athletics; teacher credentials; and access to librarians, psychologists and guidance counselors. Where Title VI disparities are found, schools should "take prompt and effective steps to eliminate any unjustified inequities." Under the guidance, schools are asked to involve law enforcement only as a last resort in school discipline, and reduce suspensions and expulsions, which tend to disproportionately affect minority students.

 

Letter: http://go.usa.gov/wggh

Guidance: http://go.usa.gov/wg2W

En Español: http://go.usa.gov/wg2F

 

Department of Education Releases Guidance on Charter Schools’ Obligations under Civil Rights Laws:

The Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Education released guidance on May 14, 2014, concerning the applicability of federal civil rights laws to charter schools. The guidance provides a reminder that charter schools are subject to the same federal civil rights obligations as all other public schools, and highlights some of the legal requirements related to admissions, student discipline, students with disabilities, and English language learners.

 

Letter available in English and Spanish: http://go.usa.gov/wgT3

 

Departments of Education and Justice Release Guidance on Non-Discrimination in Enrollment Procedures on the Basis of Immigration Status: 

The Department of Education and the Department of Justice released guidance on May 8, 2014, regarding schools' enrollment procedures and the obligation to enroll all residents of school age regardless of their race, color, national origin, immigration, or citizenship status. 

 

Letter and related materials available in English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese: http://go.usa.gov/wgTT

 

 

Departments of Education and Justice Release Letter on Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action Decision:

The Department of Education and the Department of Justice issued a Dear Colleague Letter concerning the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action. The letter provides information about the Schuette decision and reiterates the Departments’ support for the voluntary use of race and ethnicity to achieve diversity in education.

 

Letter: http://go.usa.gov/wgTm

En Español: http://go.usa.gov/wg2F

 

Summer 2014 newsletter updates

Spring 2014 newsletter updates

 

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