Of the Office for Civil Rights
Fiscal Year 2006
|PDF (6 MB)|
VI. OTHER PROGRAM MANDATES AND ACTIVITIES
A. Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP)
The Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP), administered by ED’s Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII), provides financial assistance to school districts seeking to improve education 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 MSAP statute expressly requires that the assistant secretary for civil rights determine whether 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.
In FY 2006, OCR reviewed and certified 52 school districts as meeting their MSAP civil rights assurances. It reduced the average processing time of these reviews by 33 percent as compared with FY 2005, enabling OII to more quickly deliver MSAP funding to these districts. In addition, OCR provided technical assistance to several MSAP recipients to help them comply with the civil rights statutes.
B. Vocational Education Methods of Administration
OCR oversees the civil rights compliance programs of 68 state agencies that administer vocational education at the secondary and postsecondary levels. Under the Guidelines for Eliminating Discrimination and Denial of Services on the Basis of Race, Color, National Origin, Sex, and Handicap in Vocational Education Programs (Appendix B of the Title VI regulation), OCR leverages state agency resources to enhance compliance by school districts and community colleges that provide career and technical education. To guide and assist state agencies in their civil rights compliance activities, OCR conducts annual training conferences, provides case-specific technical assistance, evaluates state agency compliance reports, and provides individualized recommendations for improvement of state agency compliance programs. The 68 state agencies conduct approximately 350 comprehensive compliance reviews annually, and approximately 80 percent of these reviews result in corrective action. As a result of the training, guidance and technical assistance that OCR provides to the state agencies, these agencies have steadily improved the quality of their compliance reviews and findings and the adequacy of the resulting remedies.
C. Minority-Serving Institutions
In April 2006, OCR published new lists of minority-serving institutions on a redesigned Web site and provided technical assistance to callers. OCR provides these lists solely as a service to the public. None of the lists are necessarily a complete listing of all colleges and universities that might fall within a particular category. Whether or not an institution of higher education appears on one of these lists, that institution is responsible for establishing its eligibility for a particular grant or contract competition, or other benefit, with ED or any other federal agency.
D. Gulf Coast Hurricanes Displacement Initiative
The summer of 2005 brought with it hurricanes Katrina, Wilma and Rita and the most severe and deadly hurricane season in the history of the United States. The immediate devastation accompanying those hurricanes along the Gulf Coast region also presented longer-term challenges, including—for parents, students and educators—the challenge of how students displaced from their home school districts by the hurricanes would be educated. Because of these events, many school districts were placed in a position of having to accept students who could not attend schools in their former school districts because of the disasters. These school districts had to cope with the aftermath of a natural disaster, which affected parents, students, teachers, administrators and others who are responsible for educating children. In some instances, parents sought assistance in determining their rights and those of their children in the new school districts where they resided. In addition, school district administrators also inquired about their roles and responsibilities in educating displaced students. To address some of these concerns, OCR committed to collaborate with state departments of education in addressing the education needs of these newly displaced students. OCR contacted the SEAs to obtain information concerning the enrollment and provision of education services to displaced students and the unique needs faced by the LEAs (for example, services for LEP students and students with disabilities, and assignment to schools). Based on this information, OCR has been working in collaboration with SEA officials and at the local school level with school district personnel and parents in providing technical assistance. OCR provided information to parents, school administrators, teachers and parent-teacher associations to ensure school programs were accessible to all students displaced by the hurricanes and operated consistent with civil rights laws and regulations.