Annual Report to Congress FY 2005
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Examples of OCR Case Resolutions
Across the country, OCR’s enforcement program is having a profound influence on the lives of students at all education levels. Following are some examples of our successes in FY 2005 as well as in prior years.
Denial of Services
An educational services commission operating after-school programs in more than 60 school districts in a state excluded students with certain types of disabilities from its after-school programs. In response to concerns raised by OCR, the commission revised its procedures to ensure children who require a specialized medical, physical, or behavioral childcare program are afforded access to the program. In addition, the commission expanded its training of caregivers to enable them to provide additional emergency medical care to ensure a safe environment for these students.
A large urban school district agreed to eliminate a backlog of students awaiting evaluations, reevaluations, and placements. The agreement also included other requirements, such as implementation of a computerized placement system and hiring of additional professional staff to enable the district to provide timely evaluations and placements. Thousands of school children with disabilities were affected by this agreement.OCR case, 1989
Provision of Appropriate Special Education Services
A complaint filed on behalf of all students served by the special education department of a large urban school district alleged systemic denial of appropriate educational services. With assistance from OCR, the district developed a comprehensive special education program with detailed action steps identifying responsible staff, evidence of completion, and timelines. The district is developing a process for reviewing each student’s educational program to ensure individual needs are addressed.
|An OCR compliance review of a school district determined many students with limited English proficiency were placed in special education programs segregated from other school programs. Several schools that enrolled large numbers of LEP students were overcrowded, and inferior to other schools. One school with a 96 percent Hispanic enrollment had no library, limited recreation areas, overcrowded classrooms and was rodent-infested. The district agreed to implement a comprehensive alternative language program for LEP students, revise its special education referral, evaluation, and placement processes, and ensure that school facilities and resources would no longer be influenced by the racial or ethnic composition of a school’s student enrollment.
OCR case, 1995
A complaint alleged a large university was discriminating against mobility-impaired persons on the basis of disability with respect to the provision of on-campus accessible parking. Based on OCR’s findings, the university agreed to create approximately 190 new accessible on-campus parking spaces, which will afford faculty, administrators, students, and others with disabilities the opportunity to attend on-campus classes, programs, theater productions, athletic events, and other school functions.
A complainant alleged her son, who uses a wheelchair, was carried on and off buses instead of being provided a bus with a lift or a ramp when he participated in a school-sponsored athletic event with the Special Olympics. After both parties expressed interest in resolving the complaint through OCR’s Early Complaint Resolution process, the school district agreed to ensure all future Special Olympic athletes will be transported in accessible buses.
Provision of Non-Academic Services
OCR successfully resolved a complaint alleging students without disabilities were allowed to take the road test for obtaining a state driver’s license from their driver education teachers, while students with disabilities were required to take the road test through the state department of public safety. The state agreed to change its policy so students with physical disabilities have the opportunity to take the road test at their home schools, with necessary accommodations, in the same manner as students without disabilities.
A junior high school student with disabilities filed a complaint with OCR saying that his photograph, as well as those of other students with disabilities, was segregated in the school’s yearbook. Pictures of students with disabilities were placed in a different location from the pictures of other students. After contact by OCR, the school district agreed to integrate pictures of students with disabilities along with other student photos.
OCR case, 1999
Title IX Cases
OCR investigated a complaint alleging a school district was not providing female students equal opportunities in its athletics program. OCR found disparities in the provision of locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities, equipment and supplies, and publicity opportunities and also determined that a district employee engaged in retaliation and intimidation of parents who had raised concerns regarding the district’s compliance with civil rights laws. The district signed a comprehensive resolution agreement negotiated by OCR resolving all of the compliance issues and providing for continued OCR monitoring.
A complaint against a school district alleged the high school weight-lifting coach treated girls in his weight-lifting class differently than boys by requiring the girls to run an extra lap and to do their exercises in the front of the classroom. After OCR facilitated an agreement between the parties through early complaint resolution, the school district agreed girls will not be required to run an extra lap without reason, a conscious effort will be made to line up groups of students without causing embarrassment, and sexual harassment training will be provided to staff.
A complainant alleged a seminary failed to designate an employee to coordinate its efforts to comply with Title IX. OCR determined the seminary had a designated Title IX coordinator, but had failed to notify all of its students and employees of the coordinator's office address and telephone number, in accordance with the requirements of the Title IX regulations. The seminary’s resolution agreement with OCR corrected the violation.
This OCR complaint alleged that during the 2001–02 school year, a district failed to take appropriate action in response to complaints that a male teacher sexually harassed the complainant’s daughter and other female students, which included: touching the girls in a sexual manner; making offensive and sexually derogatory comments and jokes; and displaying sexually explicit photos. OCR investigated and determined that the district took only limited measures in response to the reported harassment and that, while the harassment was eventually stopped by the resignation of the teacher, the district neither initiated steps to address the alleged harassment nor took measures to remedy any effects on students and prevent recurrence of the behavior.
OCR obtained a voluntary agreement from the district requiring that the district: 1) offer the parents of the students an opportunity to have their students evaluated to determine if they were negatively affected by the harassment and provide counseling as necessary; 2) provide in-service training and general assemblies about the prohibition against sexual harassment; 3) disseminate the district's Title IX sexual harassment policy and grievance procedures; and 4) document the investigation of all such complaints and maintenance of reports.
OCR case, 2002
OCR received a complaint alleging that a community college restricted a noncredit automotive course to female students. The course was identified in the college’s catalog as a “great mother/daughter activity.” OCR’s investigation showed that all the other automotive technology classes enrolled only males. The college agreed to change the title and course description of the basic car care course and to ensure other brochures, course descriptions, and counseling and appraisal materials were sex neutral.
OCR case, 1991
Title VI Cases
Segregated Homecoming Activities
A complaint alleged a high school was implementing procedures for electing homecoming queens (one black and one white) and homecoming representatives on the basis of race. During an investigation, OCR confirmed the district’s written policies required the high school student population to elect separate homecoming queens and members of the homecoming court on the basis of race. Pursuant to a voluntary compliance agreement, the district developed and implemented nondiscriminatory policies and procedures for the selection of homecoming queens districtwide. OCR verified the revised policy contained objective selection criteria unrelated to the race of the student and was disseminated to all students and staff.
Discrimination by Instructor
A graduate student in education filed a complaint against a university alleging discrimination on the basis of race (Asian) and national origin (Thai). She alleged the instructor of her statistics course treated her differently from other students in the class and made offensive comments concerning her English language proficiency. Using OCR’s Early Complaint Resolution process, the complainant and the university entered into an agreement in which the university will permit the complainant to re-take the statistics course at no cost to her with a different instructor. In addition, the university developed a policy prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race and national origin, designated a university employee to investigate reports of such discrimination, and established remedies to address cases in which discrimination is documented.
The parent of an African-American student filed a complaint with OCR alleging the student was suspended for two days for fighting, while a white student who engaged in the same behavior was not disciplined. After OCR’s initial contact with the school district to discuss the complaint, the district and complainant agreed the two-day suspension would be expunged from the African-American student’s records and the complainant’s son would participate in anger management counseling or training.