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Race and National Origin Discrimination
Policy Guidance

image title: Protecting Students: Race and National Origin DiscriminationOCR’s  policy guidance materials serve an important function: to notify schools and other recipients of federal funds of their legal obligations and the ways OCR enforces federal civil rights laws, helping them to comply with the law. In some instances, the guidance OCR issues directly responds to emerging trends in discriminatory behavior (as reflected in the Civil Rights Data Collection), requests OCR receives for technical assistance, and complaint investigations. Also, when precedent-setting cases in the courts clarify specific elements of application of the law, OCR utilizes "Dear Colleague" letters and accompanying supplementary materials to help ensure that the general public understands how the decisions apply to schools, districts, and educational institutions of higher learning. When appropriate, OCR issues guidance jointly with other civil rights offices, such as the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Learn about different types of guidance documents, including how to comment on significant guidance. Educational institutions may use OCR’s policy guidance to help adjust their own policies and practices to enhance civil rights protections for students and avoid committing civil rights violations, which may eliminate the need for OCR enforcement. And students, families, and communities may utilize this guidance to better understand students’ civil rights.

Below, in chronological order, are policy guidance materials related to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

 


Date  

Title of Document


 
2018
 

July 3, 2018

 

Updates to Department of Education and Department of Justice Guidance on Title VI

 

The U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Justice (DOJ) withdraw guidance documents that advocate specific policies and procedures beyond what the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution or Title IV or Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 require. The Dear Colleague Letter reiterates ED’s commitment to the vigorous enforcement of civil rights laws on behalf of all students.

  • "Dear Colleague" letter PDF (335K)

 
2017
 

January 17, 2017

 

Office for Civil Rights Releases Resources for Educators on Title VI and Religion

 

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) today released a package of documents to assist schools, colleges, universities, educators, and students understand how Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, enforced by OCR, protects students of any religion from discrimination, including harassment, based on race, color, or national origin, including discrimination based on a student’s actual or perceived:

  • shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics, or
  • citizenship or residency in a country with a dominant religion or distinct religious identity.

The package includes a Know Your Rights document on when discrimination involving students who are or are perceived to belong to a religious group may be discrimination that is prohibited by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act; a fact sheet on combatting discrimination against Jewish students; a fact sheet on combatting discrimination against AANHPI/MASSA students; and a Dear Colleague Letter on Title VI and Title IX and Religious Discrimination.

 


 
2016
 

December 12, 2016

 

Office for Civil Rights Releases Guidance on the Prevention of Racial Discrimination in Special Education

 

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) today issued guidance addressing the interplay of the Title VI prohibition against discrimination on the basis of race/color/national origin in the administration of special education in public schools.


September 30, 2016

 

Questions and Answers about the Supreme Court’s 2016 ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin

 

This “Questions and Answers” entry provides information about the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2016 ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (Fisher II), and reiterates the continued support of the Departments of Education and Justice for the voluntary use of race and ethnicity to achieve diversity in education.

  • Questions and Answers PDF (116.63 K) ARCHIVED

June 6, 2016

 

U.S. Department of Education Release Joint Fact Sheet about Combatting Discrimination against Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) and Muslim, Arab, Sikh, and South Asian (MASSA) students

 

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Educational Opportunities Section, and the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders issued a fact sheet that includes examples of forms of discrimination that members of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) and Muslim, Arab, Sikh, and South Asian (MASSA) communities commonly face. 

  • The fact sheet in English PDF (239.2K) and in other languages about combating discrimination against Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) and Muslim, Arab, Sikh, and South Asian (MASSA) students.


 
2015
 

January 7, 2015

 

Guidance to Ensure English Learner Students Have Equal Access to a High-Quality Education

 

The U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Justice (DOJ) released joint guidance: "Dear Colleague" letter: English Learner Students and Limited English Proficient Parents reminding states, school districts and schools of their obligations under federal law to ensure that English learner students have equal access to a high-quality education and the opportunity to achieve their full academic potential.” In addition to the guidance, the Departments also released additional tools and resources to help schools in serving English learner students and parents with limited English proficiency, including:

  • Press Release

  • "Dear Colleague" letter PDF (499K)
    Carta a los Estimados Colegas PDF (809K)

  • A fact sheet for English Learner Students in English and in other languages about schools' obligations under federal law to ensure that English learner students can participate meaningfully and equally in school PDF (536K).

  • A fact sheet for Limited English Proficient (LEP) Parents and Guardians and for Schools and School Districts that Communicate with them in English and in other languages about the obligation to communicate information in a language that parents can understand PDF (428K).

  • A toolkit to help school districts identify English learner students PDF (1.5M).


 
2014
 

December 16, 2014

 

Implementing CDC’s Ebola Guidance for Schools while Protecting the Civil Rights of Students and Others

 

The Fact Sheet addresses how school officials can implement Ebola guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  without discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, or disability; explains what school officials must do to ensure a continuity of learning if a student is legitimately excluded from school; and reminds school officials of their responsibility to respond to bullying and harassment.  Other resources on Ebola can be found at www.ed.gov/ebola-response.

  • Fact Sheet PDF (158K)


December 8, 2014

 

Guidance on Protecting Civil Rights in Juvenile Justice Residential Facilities

 

"Dear Colleague" letter from Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon and Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Vanita Gupta, U.S. Department of Justice, concerning the applicability of Federal civil rights laws to juvenile justice residential facilities. The letter provides a reminder that juvenile justice residential facilities receiving Federal funds are subject to the same Federal civil rights obligations as all other public schools, and highlights some of the legal requirements related to access to academic coursework and career and vocational training, students with disabilities, English language learners, and the administration of discipline.

  • "Dear Colleague" letter PDF (676K)


October 1, 2014

 

Guidance to Ensure All Students Have Equal Access to Educational Resources

 

"Dear Colleague" letter from Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon about ensuring students have equal access to educational resources without regard to race, color, or national origin. The guidance, fact sheet, and resources for technical assistance are also available on the Resource Comparability Materials homepage.

  • Press Release
    En español

  • "Dear Colleague" letter PDF (469K)
    Carta a los Estimados Colegas: Comparabilidad de Recursos PDF (307K)

  • Fact Sheet PDF (179K)
    En español (Spanish) PDF (510K)
    情况说明书 (Sim. Chinese) PDF (299K)
    情況說明書 (Trad. Chinese) PDF (431K)
    한국어 (Korean) PDF (352K)
    русский (Russian) PDF (254K)
    Tagalog (Tagalog) PDF (180K)
    Việt-ngữ (Vietamese) PDF (223K)


May 14, 2014

 

Guidance on Charter Schools

 

The letter provides a reminder that charter schools are subject to the same Federal civil rights obligations as all other public schools, and highlights some of the legal requirements related to admissions, student discipline, students with disabilities, and English language learners.

  • "Dear Colleague" letter PDF (171K)
    Carta a los estimados colegas: Escuelas Chárter PDF (186K)


May 8, 2014

 

Guidance for School Districts to Ensure Equal Access for All Children to Public Schools Regardless of Immigration Status

 

Important updates to the joint 2011 guidance regarding school responsibilities under Plyler v. Doe, including examples of permissible enrollment practices, as well as examples of the types of information that may not be used as a basis for denying a student entrance to school.

  • Press Release

  • "Dear Colleague" letter: School Enrollment Procedures PDF (179K)
    En español (Spanish) PDF (177K)
    العربيّة (Arabic) PDF (269K)
    情況說明書 (Trad. Chinese) PDF (230K)
    한국어 (Korean) PDF (244K)
    Tagalog (Tagalog) PDF (155K)
    Việt-ngữ (Vietamese) PDF (213K)

  • Questions and Answers about Dear Colleague PDF (325K)
    En español (Spanish) PDF (196K)
    العربيّة (Arabic) PDF (233K)
    情況說明書 (Trad. Chinese) PDF (258K)
    한국어 (Korean) PDF (385K)
    Tagalog (Tagalog) PDF (185K)
    Việt-ngữ (Vietamese) PDF (313K)

  • Fact Sheet about Dear Colleague PDF (569K)
    En español (Spanish) PDF (237K)
    العربيّة (Arabic) PDF (202K)
    情況說明書 (Trad. Chinese) PDF (252K)
    한국어 (Korean) PDF (288K)
    Tagalog (Tagalog) PDF (156K)
    Việt-ngữ (Vietamese) PDF (248K)


May 6, 2014

 

Letter on Supreme Court ruling in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action

 

"Dear Colleague" letter concerning the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action. The letter provides information about the Schuette decision and reiterates the Departments’ support for the voluntary use of race and ethnicity to achieve diversity in education.

  • "Dear Colleague" letter  PDF (99K) ARCHIVED


January 8, 2014

 

Guidance Package to Enhance School Climate and Improve School Discipline Policies/Practices

 

The guidance package will assist states, districts and schools in developing practices and strategies to enhance school climate, and ensure those policies and practices comply with federal law in light of the difficulty of creating and maintaining safe, positive environments. Included within the guidance package is the "Dear Colleague" letter: Racial Disparities In The Administration Of School Discipline" from Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon, U.S. Department of Education, and Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels, U.S. Department of Justice.


 
2013
 

September 27, 2013

 

Guidance on the Voluntary Use of Race to Achieve Diversity in Higher Education after Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin

 

This “Dear Colleague” letter and Questions and Answers document provides colleges and universities with information about the ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin,  and reiterates the Departments of Justice and the Department of Education’s position on the voluntary use of race to achieve diversity in higher education.


June 12, 2013

 

Letter to Health-Related Schools Regarding Hepatitis B Discrimination

 

This joint OCR/DOJ/HHS “Dear Colleague” letter discusses the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding the participation of students with hepatitis B in health-related post-secondary schools, and how the CDC recommendations relate to the federal laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability, race, color, and national origin.


April 24, 2013

 

Guidance on the prohibition against retaliation under Federal civil rights laws

   

“"Dear Colleague" letter” from Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Seth Galanter clarifies the basic principles of retaliation law and describes OCR’s methods of enforcement.



 
2011
 

December 2, 2011

 

Guidance on Voluntary Use of Race to Achieve Diversity or Avoid Racial Isolation

 

Joint OCR/DOJ "Dear Colleague" letter and guidance documents addressing the voluntary use of race to achieve diversity or avoid racial isolation in elementary and secondary schools, and the voluntary use of race to achieve diversity in postsecondary institutions.

  • Press Release ARCHIVED
    En español (Spanish) PDF (83K) ARCHIVED
    情況說明書 (Trad. Chinese) PDF (178K) ARCHIVED
    한국어 (Korean) PDF (149K) ARCHIVED
    Tagalog (Tagalog) PDF (26K) ARCHIVED
    Việt-ngữ (Vietamese) PDF (153K) ARCHIVED

  • Joint OCR/DOJ “Dear Colleague” letter PDF (136K) ARCHIVED

  • Guidance for K-12 Schools PDF (290K) ARCHIVED

  • Guidance for Postsecondary Schools PDF (124K) ARCHIVED


May 6, 2011

 

Guidance on Schools’ Obligation to Ensure Equal Access to Education in Enrollment Practices

 

Guidance jointly issued by the Departments of Education and Justice to assist states and school districts in meeting their legal obligations to ensure that their enrollment policies and practices do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national origin, and do not bar or discourage students’ enrollment in school based on their or their parents’ actual or perceived immigration status.

  • "Dear Colleague" letter   PDF (130K) ARCHIVED   (superseded by “Dear Colleague” Letter published May 8, 2014 PDF (171K))
    En español (Spanish) PDF (131K) ARCHIVED  (superseded by “Dear Colleague” Letter published May 8, 2014 PDF (177K))

  • Questions and Answers PDF (559K) ARCHIVED  (Newest content published published May 8, 2014 PDF (325K))

  • Fact Sheet  PDF (1.3M) ARCHIVED  (Newest content published published May 8, 2014 PDF (569K))
    En español (Spanish) PDF (598K) ARCHIVED  (Newest content published published May 8, 2014 PDF (237K))


 
2010
 

October 26, 2010

  Guidance on Schools’ Obligations to Protect Students from Student-on-Student Harassment on the Basis of Sex; Race, Color and National Origin; and Disability
 

“Dear Colleague” letter from Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Russlynn Ali, concerning recipients' obligations to protect students from student-on-student harassment on the basis of sex; race, color and national origin; and disability. The letter clarifies the relationship between bullying and discriminatory harassment, provides examples of harassment, and illustrates how a school should respond in each case.


 
prior to 2010
 

January 13, 2009

  Guidance on Assurance of Compliance-Civil Rights Certificate
    “Dear Colleague” letter from Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Stephanie Monroe, concerning the obligation of recipients of federal financial assistance from, or funds made available through, the Department to submit a signed assurance of compliance with the Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act and the other laws OCR enforces. This letter is a subsequent request to recipients for whom OCR has no record of receiving a signed assurance.  The letter contains instructions for completion, and encloses a blank copy of the Assurance of Compliance – Civil Rights Certificate for submission to OCR.

January 8, 2009

  Guidance on Equitable Access to, Participation in, and Administration of Public School Choice under ESEA (as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act)
 

"Dear Colleague" letter from Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Stephanie Monroe providing Chief State School Officers, State educational agencies, and local educational agencies with information to ensure the provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, regarding access to, participation in, and administration of, public school choice, are implemented in a nondiscriminatory manner that is consistent with the requirements of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its implementing regulations.


August 28, 2008

  Guidance on the Use of Race in Assigning Students to Elementary and Secondary Schools
 

"Dear Colleague" letter from Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Stephanie Monroe to provide postsecondary institutions with information on how OCR assesses the use of race in admissions consistent with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000d (Title VI). This guidance sets out the applicable Title VI principles, including pertinent standards enunciated by the U.S. Supreme Court in the past five years.


August 28, 2008

  Guidance on the Use of Race in Postsecondary Student Admissions
 

The Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education issues this guidance to provide postsecondary institutions with information on how OCR assesses the use of race in admissions consistent with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000d (Title VI). This guidance sets out the applicable Title VI principles, including pertinent standards enunciated by the U.S. Supreme Court in the past five years.


September 20, 2004

 

Joint DOJ/OCR Guidance on Segregated Proms

 

"Dear Colleague" letter addressing the issue of civil rights violations inherent in allocation of extracurricular awards or honors on the basis of race, or violations inherent in racially separate proms or dances.


September 14, 2004

 

Title VI and Title IX Discrimination

 

"Dear Colleague" letter addressing the right of all students, including students of faith, to be free from discrimination in our schools and colleges under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, in cases where such discrimination may be commingled with religious discrimination.


February 2004

 

Achieving Diversity:  Race-Neutral Alternatives In American Education

 

Archiving Diversity: Race-Neutral Alternatives in American Education


July 28, 2003

  First Amendment
 

"Dear Colleague" letter reaffirming that OCR's regulations and policies do not require or prescribe speech, conduct or harassment codes that impair the exercise of rights protected under the First Amendment.


March 2003

  Race-Neutral Approaches to Diversity in Education
 

OCR Letter: Race-Neutral Approaches to Diversity in Education


January 19, 2001

  Guidance on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Access to Educational Resources
 

"Dear Colleague" letter from U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, concerning racial and ethnic disparities in access to educational resources, including teachers, facilities, instructional programs and support, technology, and school funding.

  • "Dear Colleague" letter PDF (852K)


July 25, 2000

 

Memoranda on Schools' Obligations Toward National Origin Minority Students who are Limited-English Proficient (LEP)

  Office for Civil Rights policies regarding LEP children are reflected in these three OCR policy documents.

November 30, 1999

 

Materials for Developing a Comprehensive English Language Learners (ELL) Program

  These materials were developed as a reference tool by the Office for Civil Rights to assist school districts through the process of developing a comprehensive English language learners (ELL) program. These materials discuss helpful steps to follow in designing or revising a program for ELL students.

March 19, 1997

  Guidance on the Effect of Proposition 209 on the Responsibilities of California's School Districts and Colleges Under Federal Educational Programs and Civil Rights Laws
 

Effect of Proposition 209, California's ban on affirmative action, on the responsibilities of California's school districts and colleges under educational programs and civil rights laws administered by the Department of Education.


July 30, 1996

  Guidance on Consideration of Race in Making College and University Admissions Decisions and Awarding Financial Aid in Light of the Hopwood v. Texas Decision
 

Consideration of race in making college and university admissions decisions and awarding financial aid, in light of the Hopwood v. Texas decision.


September 27, 1991

 

Policy Update on Schools' Obligations Toward National Origin Minority Students With Limited-English Proficiency

 

April 6, 1990

 

Office for Civil Rights Policy Regarding the Treatment of National Origin Minority Students Who Are Limited English Proficient

 

September 11, 1984

  Language Minority Compliance Procedures
 

May 25, 1970

  Identification of Discrimination and Denial of Services on the Basis of National Origin
 


   
Last Modified: 07/03/2018