Of the Office for Civil Rights
Fiscal Year 2006
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B. Proactive Enforcement
Continuing a nationwide initiative under Title VI, Section 504 and Title II to address the discriminatory misclassification of students, based on race, as in need of special education, OCR initiated numerous compliance reviews in FY 2003, 2004 and 2005 examining whether minority students were being denied education benefits because of discriminatory inclusion in or exclusion from special education. During these years, OCR also focused its reviews on school districts around the country to determine whether LEP students were being discriminated against by inappropriate inclusion in or exclusion from special education because of their limited English proficiency, and to ensure that such students were provided the services they needed so they could participate meaningfully in the districts’ education programs. In FY 2006, OCR resolved 26 compliance reviews that focused on the issue of minorities in special education and nine that focused specifically on the issue of LEP students in special education.
- In FY 2006, OCR completed and resolved a compliance review that addressed the issue of minorities in gifted and talented programs in a major urban school district. As a result of OCR’s review, the district created gifted and talented programs in traditionally underserved communities, enrichment programs and multi-source notices to parents in each community. The district also implemented a new multiple-criteria test to assess student eligibility for the programs, and established training to provide professional development for teachers in those programs.
- OCR resolved compliance reviews of three school districts concerning the evaluation of LEP students, and their referral and placement into special education. One district agreed to develop and implement a system to track and monitor the identification and assessment process for LEP students. Another district agreed to implement procedures for the identification and assessment of LEP students; ensure that the native language, cultural background and other factors were taken into account when LEP students were evaluated for special education; and take steps to ensure effective communication with LEP parents. The third district agreed, among other things, to explain and discuss the home language survey with all parents of students enrolled in the district; assess the English proficiency of students whose home language was not English; and provide effective access to the regular education intervention process for LEP students.
- In another compliance review, OCR found a school district violated Title VI and Section 504 by exiting LEP students who were also in special education from LEP programs based solely on oral language proficiency, rather than considering all of the modalities. OCR also found the district limited the services provided to LEP students who remained in both programs. OCR found a violation regarding the district’s written policy concerning communication with LEP parents. The district agreed to review and revise its procedures so that exiting decisions would be based upon an assessment of the student’s total English language proficiency. The district also agreed to communicate school-related information to parents in a language they understood.
As part of its proactive enforcement of Title VI, OCR provided presentations on harassment, including racial harassment, at events ranging from a national conference focusing on American-Arabs, to a training session for teachers, administrators and staff of a school district. At a conference concerning LEP students, OCR discussed the responsibilities of schools to address and prevent racial harassment in addition to discussing the schools’ responsibilities to ensure equal educational opportunities for LEP students.
|[T]hank you for your presentation on the various types of harassment during our in-service training ... You did an excellent job explaining the various types of harassment and generated many positive comments. Thanks to OCR, our teachers and staff are better prepared to be proactive and prevent harassment in our schools. If I were grading you, you would receive an A+. Not only did you provide excellent information, you made a difficult to during
and after the talk ...
Letter from a superintendent
OCR has conducted numerous technical assistance presentations on its policies regarding LEP students, including those organized through state boards of education and state-sponsored agencies. In addition, OCR participated in a Department-sponsored nationwide conference, with 4,000 participants, which focused on No Child Left Behind issues with respect to the role of parental involvement. At that conference, OCR provided technical assistance to the conference’s participants about its role and the rights of parents of English Language Learners as well as responsibilities of recipients under Title VI. Many attendees were parents with limited English proficiency from all over the nation. OCR also participated in a conference hosted by a state department of education that included administrators and teachers from school districts faced with the responsibilities of serving LEP students displaced by hurricane Katrina. OCR provided information to the conference participants concerning the responsibilities of local education agencies in educating LEP students.