A r c h i v e d   I n f o r m a t i o n

Applying Federal Civil Rights Laws
to Public Charter Schools

Responsibilitiesfor for Civil Rights Compliance

Perhaps the most common image associated with education is the relationship between a child and his or her teacher. Of course, public education is that and more. It includes shared responsibility by many entities, including the school, the school district, and the state, acting in cooperation with parents. In much the same way, the responsibility for safeguarding the civil rights of the students, parents, and teachers in a public school, such as your charter school, is shared and does not fall exclusively on any one individual or agency.

1. Who is responsible for making sure that my charter school is complying with federal civil rights laws?

Public schools, including your charter school, are responsible for complying with several federal civil rights laws, based on their status as recipients of federal financial assistance and as public entities. Other entities share responsibility for your school’s compliance. If your charter school is part of a Local Educational Agency (LEA), such as a school district, the LEA is also responsible for ensuring that your school is complying. Furthermore, if your charter school receives federal funds through the State Educational Agency (SEA) or an authorized public chartering agency that receives federal funds, or is chartered by the SEA or its designee, the SEA is also responsible. The SEA is responsible in all cases for having methods of administration that are not discriminatory, including procedures for chartering schools.

    Sources of federal education funds include programs authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended, including the Public Charter Schools Program.

2. In general, what are the federal civil rights obligations that apply to public elementary or secondary schools, including my charter school?

Public schools, including charter schools, must not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, or disability in any of their programs or activities. The primary federal civil rights laws addressed in this publication include:

    Other applicable federal civil rights laws not directly addressed in this publication include:
  • Age Discrimination Act of 1975;
  • Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964;
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; and
  • Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974.



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