Agency Title VI Investigations and Resolutions
Agency Title VI Investigations and Resolutions
Table of Contents:
On August 18, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved the agreement between the City of Phoenix and local fair housing organizations to resolve discrimination claims based on race and national origin under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as claims under the Fair Housing Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Specifically, the organizations claimed the city did not make its online pre-application process accessible to persons with disabilities, provided vital documents in English only, and failed to notify limited English proficient (LEP) applicants that they could request language assistance. A press release and accompanying documents are available at go.usa.gov/xKz4g.
On August 4, HUD announced that it approved an agreement with the City of Richmond, Virginia, settling 14 complaints of housing discrimination filed against the city by Hispanic residents under the Fair Housing Act and Title VI. The complaints alleged that the City of Richmond selectively enforced its code requirements against residents of the city's mobile home parks, who are predominantly Hispanic.
The complainants alleged that, due to their national origin, the city imposed unreasonable and legally unjustified requirements that they had to meet to avoid condemnation of their homes; intimidated and harassed them by conducting intrusive inspections with armed police escorts and threatening criminal court action and large monetary fines; and failed to provide meaningful language access to LEP residents.
Under the terms of the agreement, Richmond will pay $30,000 in damages to some of the complainants, analyze its language access needs, develop a language access plan, and conduct outreach to the Spanish speaking community. The city will also update its Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing (AI), hold regular meetings with relevant city offices about the AI, and take steps to identify additional funding that mobile home park tenants can use for repairs to their units. The agreement with HUD and the City of Richmond is located at go.usa.gov/xKz4r. Several of the HUD complainants were plaintiffs in a separate lawsuit filed in federal court, and received an additional $40,000 from the city for relocation or home safety repairs.
Department of Justice Reaches Settlement Agreement with the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles on Timely and Accurate Language Assistance Services:
On September 20, DOJ’s Federal Coordination and Compliance Section (FCS) of the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California (USAO) reached an agreement (go.usa.gov/xKz4d) with the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles (LASC) to ensure that LEP court users will have access to timely and accurate language assistance services. The agreement resolves an investigation of a complaint alleging that LASC failed to provide LEP individuals with meaningful access to its court services, including civil proceedings and court operations, in violation of Title VI and its implementing regulations. During the investigation, LASC began expanding the services it provided to LEP individuals in all criminal and most civil matters. Under the agreement, LASC will expand free interpreter services in civil matters where not yet provided by December 1, 2017. LASC also agreed to translate local forms, provide broader notice about the availability of free interpreter services for court proceedings, and make it easier to request an interpreter. Under the agreement, LASC will continue to work with community stakeholders and provide FCS and the USAO with periodic updates through the end of 2017. A press release is available at go.usa.gov/xKz4H. The agreement is available in English (go.usa.gov/xKz4d), Spanish (go.usa.gov/xKz4s) and Korean (go.usa.gov/xkG37).
Department of Justice Reaches Settlement Agreement with California to Ensure Equal Educational Opportunities for English Learners:
On September 9, DOJ’s Educational Opportunities Section (EOS) of the Civil Rights Division reached a comprehensive settlement agreement with the California Department of Education (CDE) and the California State Board of Education to improve their compliance monitoring systems and ensure language instruction services to the approximately 1.4 million English Learner (EL) students in the state’s public schools. The settlement resolves DOJ’s May 2015 findings that California’s system for monitoring its public schools’ provision of language services to EL students did not satisfy the state’s obligations under the Equal Educational Opportunities Act (EEOA) of 1974. These obligations closely resemble those of federally funded state education agencies under Title VI, as explained in the 2015 Dear Colleague Letter on EL students and LEP parents issued by DOJ and the Department of Education (go.usa.gov/xkG29). The state cooperated fully during the review.
DOJ concluded that the state had failed to respond appropriately to schools’ certified reports showing that over 20,000 EL students were not receiving instructional language services each school year since 2007 to 2008. The two-year agreement requires the state to undertake several actions, including:
- Respond in a timely and effective manner to credible evidence that schools are failing to serve EL students, including notifying them of violations and providing a protocol by which they must submit to CDE documented evidence that resolves the violations;
- When selecting schools for monitoring reviews, consider their reports of unserved EL students and include charter schools in the selection process for such reviews each year;
- Improve CDE’s online monitoring tool and require that schools found to be out of compliance with specific requirements in this online tool receive onsite monitoring if they fail to provide adequate evidence that the noncompliance has been resolved; and
- Develop and implement policies and training on the monitoring, review and corrective action processes of CDE’s monitoring of schools for EL service violations, and ensure that all EL monitoring consultants receive such training.
Department of Justice Enters Agreement with the Richland County, SC Sheriff’s Department to Ensure Civil Rights Protections for Students:
On August 10, DOJ, through the Office of Justice Programs’ Office for Civil Rights (OJP OCR), entered into an agreement with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD) to resolve a civil rights compliance review of its School Resource Officer (SRO) program. The compliance review examined whether the SRO program was discriminating against students based on race, color, national origin, or disability. The agreement requires RCSD to undertake a comprehensive assessment and overhaul of its SRO program, including:
- Developing policies to minimize school-based seizures and arrests and meet the needs of students with disabilities;
- Providing intensive, annual training to its SROs on bias-free policing, de-escalation, and youth development;
- Conducting detailed data collection and analysis; and
- Establishing a community working group to recommend program improvements.
For further information on this matter, please see the agreement (go.usa.gov/xKz48) and associated press release (go.usa.gov/xKz49). OJP OCR is responsible for ensuring that recipients of federal financial assistance from the Office of Justice Programs and its components comply with applicable federal civil rights laws.
Department of Justice Finds Title VI and Pattern or Practice Violations by the Baltimore Police Department:
On August 10, DOJ’s Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division announced that it found reasonable cause to believe that the Baltimore City Police Department (BPD) engages in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution, as well as federal anti-discrimination laws, including Title VI. DOJ found that BPD makes stops, searches and arrests without the required justification; uses enforcement strategies that unlawfully subject African-Americans to disproportionate rates of stops, searches and arrests; uses excessive force; and retaliates against individuals for their constitutionally-protected expression. The city and DOJ have entered into an agreement in principle to work together, with community input, to create a federal court-enforceable consent decree addressing the deficiencies found during the investigation.
The agreement in principle highlights specific areas of reform to be included in the consent decree, including:
- Policies, training, data collection and analysis to allow for the assessment of officer activity and to ensure that officers’ actions conform to legal and constitutional requirements;
- Technology and infrastructure to ensure capability to effectively monitor officer activity;
- Officer support to ensure that officers are equipped to perform their jobs effectively and constitutionally; and
- Community policing strategies to guide all aspects of BPD’s operations and help rebuild the relationship between BPD and the various communities it serves.
DOJ will be conducting community outreach to solicit input in developing comprehensive reforms. Comments may be provided by email at Community.Baltimore@usdoj.gov.
Department of Labor Reaches Agreement with KY Unemployment Insurance Program to Improve Access for Limited English Proficient Individuals:
On September 27, the Department of Labor’s Civil Rights Center (DOL CRC) entered into an agreement with the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training (KOET) to address deficiencies in providing meaningful access to its unemployment insurance (UI) program for limited English proficient (LEP) individuals. DOL CRC conducted a compliance review of KOET pursuant to Title VI and Section 188 of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and regulations implementing these statutes. As a result of CRC’s investigation of KOET’s UI division, KOET voluntarily and affirmatively agreed to the following:
- Assess the language needs of the LEP populations they serve by identifying the highest-demand languages and specific needs of these populations at both the state and local level;
- Develop and implement a language access plan for providing meaningful access to LEP individuals;
- Correct deficiencies in translations of written materials, including web pages and online filing system;
- Provide training to all staff on language access obligations and how to provide meaningful access to LEP individuals through language assistance services; and
- Publicize the availability of language assistance.
Further information on the agreement is available at go.usa.gov/xkGT8.
Department of Labor Reaches Agreement with NC Department of Commerce to Improve Access for Limited English Proficient Individuals in Workforce Programs:
On September 22, DOL CRC entered into an agreement with the North Carolina Department of Commerce (NCDOC) to address deficiencies in providing meaningful access in the provision of unemployment insurance and employment services programs to LEP individuals. DOL CRC conducted a compliance review of NCDOC’s Divisions of Employment Security and Workforce Solutions pursuant to Title VI and Section 188 of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and regulations implementing these statutes. As a result, NCDOC voluntarily and affirmatively agreed to the following:
- Assess the language needs of the LEP populations they serve by identifying the highest-demand languages, adequately tracking and reporting future encounters with these individuals and addressing specific translation needs of these populations at both the state and local level;
- Develop and implement language access plans for providing meaningful access to LEP individuals;
- Correct deficiencies in translations of written materials, including web pages and online filing systems;
- Identify and correct deficiencies with the provision of interpretation services to LEP individuals;
- Provide training to all staff on language access obligations and providing meaningful access to LEP individuals through language assistance services;
- Publicize the availability of language assistance and the right of potentially aggrieved LEP individuals to file claims of delay/denial
Further information on the agreement is available at go.usa.gov/xKz4h.
Environmental Protection Agency Accepts Settlement Agreement Resolving Title VI Complaints Involving the CA Kettleman Hills Hazardous Waste Facility:
On August 10, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Civil Rights (EPA OCR) reviewed and found acceptable the terms of a settlement agreement between the California Environmental Protection Agency, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, and El Pueblo Para El Aire y Agua Limpia to resolve issues related to a Title VI complaint involving the Kettleman Hills Hazardous Waste Facility. Although EPA OCR is not a party to the settlement agreement, the parties reached this settlement through EPA OCR’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Process with the assistance of a mediator provided by EPA OCR. In light of the settlement, EPA OCR plans to issue a resolution letter officially closing the complaint.
The resolution agreement is available at perma.cc/6RLR-NV67.