AGENCY TITLE VI AGREEMENTS, FINDINGS, SETTLEMENTS, AND LITIGATION
AGENCY TITLE VI AGREEMENTS, FINDINGS, SETTLEMENTS, AND LITIGATION
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Department of Education Releases Guidance on Implementing CDC’s Ebola Guidance for Schools while Protecting the Civil Rights of Students and Others
- Tupelo Public School District Agrees to Address School Discipline Inequity Concerns Amid ED-OCR Investigation
- Voluntary Resolution Agreement Addresses School Discipline Inequity in Minneapolis Public Schools
- Resolution Agreement Aims to Improve Minority Access to Enrichment Programs and Advanced Placement Courses
- ED OCR Addresses Discrimination Against English Language Learning Students, and students with Disabilities, with Resolution Agreement
- DOL Issues Guidance to Recipients Regarding the Potential Disparate Impact of Using Credit History and Unemployment Status Restrictions to Screen Job Applicants
- HUD Issues Letter of Findings Against the Alexander County, IL Housing Authority
- DOJ and ED Issue Joint Guidance on Overcoming Language Barriers in Schools
- Departments of Education and Justice Release Guidance Concerning the Applicability of Federal Civil Rights Laws to Juvenile Justice Residential Facilities
- UPDATE: Hawaii Department of Transportation
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.
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.
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.
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.
DOL Issues Guidance to Recipients Regarding the Potential Disparate Impact of Using Credit History and Unemployment Status Restrictions to Screen Job Applicants: On October 17, 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor issued guidance to entities receiving federal financial assistance to operate job banks on the use of credit history and unemployment status to screen out potential job applicants and its potential disparate impact on minorities and the disabled in violation of Title VI, related nondiscrimination laws and their implementing regulations.
Credit history guidance: go.usa.gov/JRk3
Unemployment status guidance: go.usa.gov/JRKd
HUD Issues Letter of Findings Against the Alexander County, IL Housing Authority:
HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity issued a Letter of Findings against the Alexander County (Illinois) Housing Authority finding a history of racial segregation in the Public Housing Authority and almost complete segregation by race in its two largest sites. These public housing sites contain a total of 247 units of which 239 (or 96.8%) were occupied by families with an African-American head of households, while other sites had occupancy rates that were approximately 57% African-American. The investigation also revealed that significantly fewer resources were expended on maintenance at the two largest sites in comparison to other less segregated locations and identified disparities based on race in pay and promotional opportunities for African-Americans.
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).
DOJ and ED Issue Joint Guidance on Overcoming Language Barriers in Schools:
On January 7, 2015, the Departments of Justice and Education issued a joint guidance on the obligations of state educational agencies and school districts to overcome language barriers that impede equal participation by students in their instructional programs. The guidance was issued pursuant to the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It addresses matters vital to ensuring meaningful and equal participation in education programs and services for the approximately 5 million English Learner (EL) students in the United States. The guidance includes, among other things, an outline of the civil rights obligations of state education agencies and schools, frequently encountered civil rights issues and the approaches schools could take to remedy it, and the legal obligations for schools to ensure that limited English proficient parents can meaningfully access school-related information. The guidance also speaks to the requirements to serve EL students with disabilities under the American with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Individuals with Disabilities Act.
The Guidance is located at go.usa.gov/t7jB.
UPDATE: Hawaii Department of Transportation: The summer issue of Title VI Civil Rights News @FCS highlighted a Statement of Interest that FCS filed in Faith Action for Community Equity v. Hawai’i Department of Transportation, No. 13-cv-00450 SOM, 2014 WL 1691622 (D. Haw. Apr. 28, 2014). The private plaintiffs’ complaint alleged that the Hawai’i Department of Transportation denied LEP individuals a meaningful opportunity to take the Hawai’i driver’s license examination. On January 13, 2015, the Department of Justice filed a second Statement of Interest with the District of Hawaii.