Agency Title VI Investigations and Resolutions

Agency Title VI Investigations and Resolutions

 

Department of Education Addresses Educational Barriers to Limited English Proficient Students and Parents in East Hartford, CT Public Schools:

 

On November 30, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (ED OCR) reached a resolution agreement with Connecticut’s East Hartford Public Schools after finding that the school district violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by failing to provide adequate language services to LEP parents and guardians and by imposing unlawful barriers to enrollment for students based on national origin.

 

ED OCR’s compliance review of the school district, which began in 2015, examined the district’s enrollment and registration policies, procedures, and practices to determine whether LEP parents and guardians received similar access to information as compared to non-LEP parents and guardians. ED OCR determined that the district violated Title VI by not providing adequate language services to LEP parents and guardians, including the following:

 

  • The district told LEP parents and guardians to provide their own interpreters to register students.
  • The district did not properly assess whether LEP parents and guardians required language services.
  • The district failed to provide any training to its staff serving as interpreters, including responsibilities regarding confidentiality and use of specialized terms.
  • The district translated fewer than half of its registration and enrollment documents into Spanish, the most frequently used language by LEP parents and guardians.
  • The district failed to provide any written instructions on obtaining oral translation of registration and enrollment documents for LEP parents and guardians who speak languages other than Spanish.

 

ED OCR also examined whether the district discriminated against national origin minority students. ED OCR found that the district violated Title VI by requiring students to provide information or documentation, such as passports and social security cards, based on the perceived national origin of the student, particularly based on language, while not making similar requests of other students. The school district agreed to remedy the Title VI violations by taking several steps including, but not limited to, the following:

 

  • Revising its registration and enrollment policies, procedures, and practices to comply with Title VI;
  • Providing appropriate, qualified, and competent interpreters and translations during the enrollment and registration process;
  • Issuing a “Notice of Language Assistance” in the district’s 10 most commonly spoken languages about the district’s free translation and interpreter services;
  • Requesting only permissible material and information from all students registering and enrolling in the district.

 

A copy of the resolution agreement is available at go.usa.gov/x9UBu, and the resolution letter is available at go.usa.gov/x9UBh.

 

Department of Health and Human Services Reaches Voluntary Resolution Agreement with Erie County, NY Department of Social Services to Ensure Language Assistance Services for Limited English Proficient Individuals:

 

On December 22, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (HHS OCR) entered into a voluntary resolution agreement with the Erie County Department of Social Services (ECDSS) of Buffalo, New York to ensure appropriate language assistance services are provided to the LEP population it serves. HHS OCR initiated an investigation of the ECDSS after receiving a complaint from Neighborhood Legal Services, filed on behalf of five LEP individuals. The complaint alleged that ECDSS failed to provide language assistance to ensure access to its information and services, as required to comply with the national origin discrimination protections of Title VI. ECDSS agreed to improve its language assistance services with the following:

 

  • Assign a Title VI coordinator.
  • Conduct and complete an assessment of the linguistic needs of the affected population served by ECDSS.
  • Identify and translate all vital documents provided by ECDSS.
  • Develop and implement a language access plan with written policies and procedures on providing assistance to individuals with LEP.
  • Develop and implement mandatory training for all staff.
  • Adopt a grievance procedure.
  • Post a Notice of Nondiscrimination.
  • Post a Nondiscrimination Statement.
  • Post Taglines in at least 10 languages.

 

The agreement resolves violations found under Title VI and reflects the interpretations of the standards in HHS OCR’s regulation implementing the language access requirements of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. The full text of the voluntary agreement can be found at go.usa.gov/x9UKc. See the following links for additional information from HHS OCR on nondiscrimination on the basis of race (go.usa.gov/x9UKC) , color (go.usa.gov/x9UKC) , or national origin (go.usa.gov/x9UK4, including limited English proficiency at go.usa.gov/x9UK8), as well as the press release of the resolution agreement (go.usa.gov/x9UKj).

 

Department of Housing and Urban Development Approves Settlement Between East Chicago Housing Authority and Fair Housing Organization:

 

On November 4, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reached an agreement to resolve discrimination claims based on race, color, national origin, familial status and disability against the East Chicago Housing Authority (ECHA). The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, on behalf of residents, alleged that ECHA violated the Fair Housing Act, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act in the relocation of residents at the West Calumet Public Housing Complex (WCPHC) due to lead and arsenic contamination of the soil surrounding the complex. The Shriver Center’s complaints alleged that the ECHA engaged in discriminatory housing practices in its management of the relocation because residents were moved into poor, segregated communities with similar or serious levels of environmental contamination. The agreement resolves the complaints and serves as the foundation to ensure that WCPHC residents are relocated in a coordinated manner to safe housing in areas of opportunity.

 

Under the terms of the agreement, the ECHA will ensure it offers relocation benefits to all eligible WCPHC residents, including residents who moved out prior to the lead disclosure due to health concerns or who have children under the age of six. These relocation benefits include a Housing Choice Voucher for residents and their families. Additionally, the, ECHA will reimburse any rent paid by tenants for November 2016 and waive the rent owed by WCPHC residents residing at WCPHC from July 22, 2016 through March 31, 2017 or the end of their tenancy.

 

A press release is available at go.usa.gov/x9UKR and a voluntary compliance agreement is available at go.usa.gov/x9UKQ.

 

Department of Housing and Urban Development Announces Landmark Settlement to Expand Affordable Housing in Baltimore County, MD:

 

On March 15, HUD entered a settlement agreement with Baltimore County, Maryland to expand affordable housing in higher opportunity areas throughout the County. The settlement will serve as a catalyst to promote housing mobility and to assist the County and its surrounding areas in developing comprehensive affordable housing planning and strategies that address residential segregation.

The Baltimore County Branch of the NAACP, Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc.,  and three individuals, filed a complaint with HUD claiming that the County: 1) had not developed affordable housing in areas other than those that were concentrated by race and poverty; 2) focused only on providing rental housing for seniors rather than families; 3) did not have adequate numbers of accessible units available for people with disabilities; and 4) failed to affirmatively further fair housing.

 

Under the terms of the agreement, Baltimore County agreed to:

 

  • Invest $3 million annually for 10 years to create 1,000 affordable housing units over a 12 year period through new construction or rehabilitation in neighborhoods that provide access to opportunity. At least 500 of the units will have three or more bedrooms to accommodate families with children, and at least one-third of the units will be accessible and made available to people with disabilities.
  • Provide Housing Choice Vouchers to at least 2,000 families that will increase access to affordable housing across the county.
  • Ensure all of its units comply with the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act, and will provide an additional $300,000 annually for 10 years to finance structural modifications to make other affordable housing units in Baltimore County accessible.
  • Proactively market the units to potential tenants who are least likely to apply, including African-American families and families with a member who has a disability. The County will also run a mobility counseling program to offer expanded housing opportunities to families.
  • Seek the enactment of legislation that prohibits discrimination based on source of income.
  • Pay the three individual claimants $150,000 in monetary relief.

 

A press release is available at go.usa.gov/x9U5d and the settlement agreement is available at go.usa.gov/x9U5w

 

Department of Justice Issues Letter to New Jersey Department of Corrections on Results of On-Site Visit:

 

On January 10, the Federal Coordination and Compliance Section (FCS) of the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Civil Rights Division sent a letter to the New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJDOC) reporting the results of a September 2016 on-site visit (go.usa.gov/x9U5e). NJDOC entered into a memorandum of agreement with DOJ in October 2014 (go.usa.gov/x9U5z) to resolve an investigation of language assistance services provided to the limited English proficient individuals at NJDOC facilities, and one of the terms of that agreement was an on-site visit.

 

Department of Transportation Reaches Agreement with Alabama Law Enforcement Agency to Ensure Equitable Driver License Office Access:

 

On December 28, the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced an agreement with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) to ensure that driver licensing services in the state will be available to all residents, regardless of race, color or national origin, in compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In late 2015, the State of Alabama announced plans to close or reduce service to 31 driver license offices throughout the state. Because a preliminary analysis of the closures suggested that the service modifications would disproportionately impact African-American residents, DOT opened an investigation into whether ALEA, as a recipient of DOT funds, had violated the Title VI prohibition against race discrimination by recipients of federal financial assistance. The agreement came after a ten-month investigation, which included review of data related to the operation of the State’s driver licensing program and interviews with residents impacted by the program. Under the agreement, ALEA will ensure that Alabama residents are not, directly or through other means, underserved by ALEA’s driver licensing programs on the basis of race, color or national origin. The agreement also establishes a working relationship between DOT and ALEA for ensuring that the state’s driver licenses services continue to comply with Title VI in the future. Specifically, ALEA agreed to:

 

  • Expand the hours of operation for district and field driver license offices throughout the Black Belt region.
  • Appoint a Title VI coordinator who will be responsible for the development and operation of ALEA’s Title VI program, as well as for the provision of Title VI training to ALEA’s staff.
  • Prepare and submit a Community Participation Plan within 90 days to achieve robust community participation throughout all stages of the planning and decision-making processes for ALEA’s programs and activities in connection with licensing services to ensure that communities are informed about potential impacts, that they have meaningful input into the process, and that ALEA officials hear and consider diverse views.
  • Submit any proposed modifications to field office hours or driver’s license services to USDOT for prior approval.

 

A press release is available at go.usa.gov/x9U5b and the settlement agreement is available at go.usa.gov/x9U5j.