A r c h i v e d I n f o r m a t i o n
to Public Charter Schools
A r c h i v e d I n f o r m a t i o nApplying Federal Civil Rights Laws
Recruitment and Admissions
Students attend charter schools by choice, but their admission might be subject to certain qualifications or selection procedures, including a lottery. This is one factor that may distinguish the operation of your charter school from many other public schools. Although your civil rights obligations are no different from those of other public school officials, the fact that your students are not simply assigned to attend your charter school underscores your need to be mindful of the rights of children and parents in your community when publicizing your school to attract students and when evaluating their applications for admission.
|Do I have any responsibility regarding the recruitment of students in order to be in compliance with federal civil rights laws?
Yes. When announcing your charter school or conducting outreach, you may not discriminate against students of a particular race, color, or national origin, or against students with disabilities. If your charter school is co-educational, then you may not discriminate in recruitment on the basis of sex. If your charter school recruits students, you should recruit them from all segments of the community served by the school, including students with disabilities and students of all races, colors, and national origins. Also, you may target additional recruitment efforts toward groups that you believe might otherwise have limited opportunities to participate in your program.
|Title IX allows single-sex programs, classes, and schools under certain conditions. For more information, see Question 9
|What steps should I take when providing outreach information to parents who are limited-English proficient?
You must make sure that parents in your community who are not proficient in English have the opportunity to understand the outreach information provided to other parents. This information may need to be provided in a language other than English. For example, if outreach materials are made available to parents, you should provide the content of the materials to parents who do not understand English in a manner and form they understand. If you conduct public informational meetings with parents or community groups, you should make sure that limited-English proficient parents who can be reasonably expected to attend have a meaningful opportunity to understand what is being presented.
|What steps should I take when providing outreach information to parents with disabilities?
You must make sure that a parent with a disability has a meaningful opportunity to understand the outreach information given about the charter school as effectively as other parents. Appropriate auxiliary aids and services must be made available whenever they are necessary to ensure effective communication with disabled parents. For example, if outreach materials are made available to parents, you need to make sure that parents with disabilities have appropriate access to the content of the materials. If requested, you may need to provide the materials using alternative formats, such as Braille, large print, or audio cassette. If you conduct public informational meetings with parents or community groups, those meetings must be physically accessible to individuals with disabilities. Qualified interpreters or another effective means of communication must be provided if requested.
|What is my obligation to make sure that all students regardless of race, color, or national origin are treated in a nondiscriminatory manner in admissions?
You may not discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national origin in determining whether an applicant satisfies any admissions requirements. Students with limited-English proficiency must have the opportunity to meet any appropriate minimum eligibility criterion for admission, consistent with the mission of the charter school. Eligibility criteria must be nondiscriminatory on their face and must be applied in a nondiscriminatory manner. If such criteria have a disparate impact on the basis of race, color, or national origin, then the criteria should be examined to ensure that they are educationally justified and that no alternative criteria exist that would equally serve your goals and have a lesser disparate impact. It is important to understand that disparities alone do not constitute discrimination under Federal law. For more information and technical assistance, contact the OCR office that serves your state.
If your charter school receives funds under the federal Public Charter Schools Program, you must use a lottery to admit students if the charter school is oversubscribed.
|For schools receiving funds under the federal Public Charter School Program, see the discussion on establishing minimum eligibility criteria for admission and other important information in Public Charter Schools Program: Non-Regulatory Guidance.
|May my charter school consider race in admissions decisions?
A charter school may take race into account in making admissions decisions in limited circumstances. Race may be used only in a narrowly-tailored way to meet a compelling interest, such as to remedy discrimination, to promote the educational benefits of diversity, or to reduce minority-group isolation. The state of the law in this area is undergoing close examination by the courts. The legal standard that applies to your state may vary, depending on State law and the federal circuit in which your state is located.
|For more information and technical assistance concerning the use of race in admissions, contact the OCR Office that serves your state and see, for example, the Federal Register notices on the Magnet Schools Assistance Program application notice.
|What is my obligation to make sure that student applicants with disabilities are treated in a nondiscriminatory manner in admissions?
Under Section 504 and Title II, you may not categorically deny admission to students on the basis of disability. For example, you may not deny admission to a student with a disability solely because of that students need for special education or related aids and services. Students with disabilities must have the opportunity to meet any appropriate minimum eligibility criterion for admission, consistent with the mission of the charter school and civil rights requirements.
|For more information on civil rights requirements regarding the educational needs of students with disabilities, see Questions 23 to 30 concerning Services to Students with Disabilities
|Does Title IX permit single-sex classes, programs, or schools?
An exemption in Title IX permits LEAs to establish single-sex elementary or secondary schools as long as they are not vocational schools. However, when an LEA establishes a public school for one sex unless it is necessary to remedy discrimination any student excluded based on sex must have made available comparable courses, services, and facilities, pursuant to the same policies and criteria of admissions.
The Title IX regulation generally prohibits single-sex classes or programs in co-educational schools. There are some exceptions, including contact sports, chorus, and portions of classes dealing with human sexuality. Separate classes may also be provided for pregnant students, but participation must be voluntary. Title IX also allows for single-sex classes and programs if they are necessary to remedy discrimination found by a court or OCR, or as a response to conditions that have limited participation by sex.
|If you are thinking of establishing a single-sex class, program, or school, we encourage you to contact your LEA and the OCR office that serves your state for more guidance. ED is reviewing its Title IX regulation pertaining to single-sex programs and schools.
[Responsibilities for Civil Rights Compliance]
[Schools Affected by Desegregation Plans or Court Orders]