Annual Report to Congress FY 2004
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OCR provides information and other support services—known as technical assistance—to a variety of interested parties, including schools, colleges and community groups. Assistance to educational institutions helps them comply with federal civil rights requirements, while assistance to parents, students and others informs them of their rights under the law. OCR provides technical assistance through a variety of methods, including on-site consultations, conferences, training, community meetings and publishing and disseminating materials . Following are some examples of OCR's FY 2004 technical assistance activities.
In cooperation with the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute, the Intercultural Development Research Association’s South Central Collaborative for Equity and the Interwest Equity Assistance Center, OCR hosted the third and final Regional American Indian Symposium in Denver in FY 2004. This symposium was a follow-up to the No Child Left Behind: Providing Educational Opportunity for American Indian and Alaskan Native Students conference hosted by OCR in Washington, D.C., in FY 2003. The Denver symposium included presentations on achieving accountability, reading readiness, teacher quality, school choice, parental involvement and OCR enforcement procedures. More than 250 people representing 29 tribes, 24 public school districts, seven Bureau of Indian Affairs schools, six state offices and parents of Indian students from the states of Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico attended the conference. Information was provided to attendees on No Child Left Behind programs and resources that support state and district-level efforts to raise the academic achievement of American Indian and Alaskan Native students.
|“By ensuring a quality education for every child, we meet an important
duty to the next generation. We’re giving young people the confidence
and skills they need to succeed in higher education, and to fill the jobs
of the 21st century. Education is the gateway to a more hopeful future,
and we will make sure that gate is open to all Americans.”
President George W. Bush
In FY 2004, OCR participated in the second National Charter School Summit, held in Dallas, Texas. The summit provided an opportunity for states, the federal government, and technical assistance providers to address common strategies for successfully serving students with disabilities in charter schools. More than 200 educators and administrators attended the summit.
OCR continued its collaboration with the Higher Education Leadership Partners (HELP), a consortium of public and private colleges and universities, state education and rehabilitation agencies, and consumers in Virginia that focuses on disability and higher education. OCR worked extensively with the Virginia Association of Higher Education and Disabilities on issues relating to transition and retention, such as documentation and alternative or accessible formats for textbooks.
During FY 2004, OCR conducted several technical assistance presentations as part of an initiative to help migrant parents enhance their involvement in their children's education. These activities informed limited English speaking migrant parents about the civil rights laws and how they protect students and parents. Information also was provided on the importance of the No Child Left Behind Act in ensuring that each child succeeds at school. For example, OCR conducted three presentations, organized through the Tri-Valley Opportunity Council and the Texas Migrant Council, that reached 115 limited English speaking migrant parents in Indiana and Minnesota. Also, at the request of the Hispanic Parents Coalition of Adams County in Denver, OCR staff made a presentation in Spanish to approximately 100 limited English proficient parents who have children enrolled in the school district. OCR discussed the district's obligations under the civil rights laws for providing services to national origin minority students with limited English proficiency and parents' rights under the No Child Left Behind Act.
As a result of compliance reviews of two state departments of education, OCR was invited to provide training to the state and district Title IX coordinators for both states, including an overview of the requirements of Title IX and the responsibilities of Title IX coordinators. As a result of the training, a number of recipients have revised their Title IX procedures and updated information on their Web sites and in their publications.
In response to Executive Order 13166, which mandates improved access to federal programs and activities for persons with limited English proficiency, the Department contracted for telephone language assistance services so that those customers can readily communicate with OCR staff. The message on the OCR Hotline now instructs customers to press 9 if they want foreign language or alternate format assistance. The call is then rerouted to an OCR representative to provide appropriate assistance.
OCR also translated several pamphlets, including our most requested publication, How to File a Discrimination Complaint with the Office for Civil Rights, into Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, Hindi, Hmong, Korean, Punjabi, Urdu and Vietnamese. These publications will be added to OCR's electronic civil rights reading room on OCR's Internet Web site.
State vocational education agencies are responsible each year for conducting comprehensive civil rights compliance reviews of selected sub-recipient schools and programs and for reporting to OCR about these compliance reviews. Throughout the year, OCR provides technical assistance in response to questions from state agencies concerning the compliance determinations and remedies resulting from these reviews. In addition, OCR provides an annual four-day training conference to state agency coordinators of vocational education civil rights compliance activities. The training conference (offered with a choice between two locations and dates) is designed to provide in-depth training on the procedures and techniques state agencies should use in conducting their civil rights compliance program and reporting to OCR. In addition, the conference provides detailed guidance about legal requirements and investigative techniques relative to specific civil rights issues. The 2004 conference included sessions on program accessibility reviews, Title IX coordinator duties, and misidentification of minority students in special education. The conference also fosters information sharing and collaboration among representatives of the participating state agencies.
In addition to these kinds of proactive initiatives, OCR responds to inquiries
and requests from the public. Calls and letters requesting assistance come
from other federal agencies, state agencies, local school districts, community
groups, parents and students.