Annual Report to Congress FY 2004
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Magnet Schools Assistance Program
The Magnet Schools Assistance program (MSAP), administered by the Department's Office of Innovation and Improvement, provides financial assistance to school districts that are seeking to improve educational programs and to reduce, prevent or eliminate minority group isolation. The program provides three-year grants for the enhancement or establishment of magnet schools. The assistant secretary for civil rights is required to certify that applicant school districts will meet nondiscrimination assurances specified in the MSAP statute. OCR also assesses whether applicants' MSAP plans are consistent with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
During FY 2004, OCR provided technical assistance and certified new three-year awards for 50 school districts. OCR concluded that one district could not meet the nondiscrimination assurances required under the MSAP statute. OCR also reviewed and certified the annual reports of two districts already receiving MSAP assistance. As necessary, OCR also provided technical assistance to several MSAP recipients in complying with civil rights statutes as well as program goals.
Equal Opportunity in Vocational Education
Under OCR's Vocational Education Programs Guidelines, state vocational education agencies are responsible for conducting civil rights reviews and other compliance activities with their subrecipient schools and programs and reporting to OCR about these activities. State vocational education agency reports are submitted biennially to OCR. In FY 2004, OCR responded to more than 30 state agency reports by providing suggestions for enhancing the effectiveness of agencies' compliance and enforcement activities in improving student access to vocational education programs on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, and disability. During the two years covered by these reports, state agencies conducted more than 300 compliance reviews, 80 percent of which resulted in corrective action and improved opportunities for students.
OCR also conducts a four-day training conference each year for state agency civil rights staff on the procedures and techniques state agencies should use in conducting their civil rights compliance reviews and reporting to OCR. Training also is provided about program requirements and investigation techniques applicable to various complex civil rights issues.