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
Schools Affected by
Desegregation Plans or Court Orders
Some school districts have desegregation obligations under plans or court orders that could affect or be affected by the establishment of your charter school, even if your charter school is its own LEA. Typically, desegregation plans and court orders are resolutions of past segregative discrimination by school districts determined by OCR or by the courts, in some instances with the participation of the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division (CRD). If the jurisdiction in which your charter school is located is under a desegregation plan or order, there are steps you can take to ensure compliance and avoid unnecessary delays.
|10.||How do I determine whether my proposed charter school is in a jurisdiction with a duty to desegregate?|
If you are uncertain whether your charter school is in a jurisdiction that is covered by an existing desegregation plan or court order, you may contact several entities for assistance. First, to determine if there is an applicable court order where the United States is a party to the case, you may contact the appropriate LEA, your SEA, or CRD. To assist you in this process, CRD has provided your chief state school officer with a list of the LEAs in the state that are subject to such a court order. Second, to determine if there is an applicable OCR Title VI desegregation plan, you may contact the appropriate LEA or the OCR office that serves your state.
You should also know that there are other desegregation plans and orders that do not involve CRD or OCR. These desegregation plans and orders only involve private parties in state or federal courts, or state agencies that have ordered districts to desegregate.
In some states and school districts there may also be other obligations under state or local laws or policies, such as those to promote integration or diversity, that could affect or be affected by your charter school. In these cases, you should consult your SEA or the appropriate LEA to determine whether the jurisdiction has a desegregation obligation.
|If you have questions about a desegregation court order where the United States is a party to the case, you may contact CRD at 202-514-4092. If you have questions about a Title VI desegregation plan, you may contact the OCR office that serves your state. A list of OCR offices is attached.|
|11.||What steps should my LEA or I take in order to establish a school that complies with an existing desegregation plan or court order?|
The establishment of any new public school, including a new charter school, in a jurisdiction with a duty to desegregate must be consistent with the LEAs obligations under its desegregation plan or court order. Alternatively, it is possible to seek a modification of the applicable plan or order. If you are establishing a charter school in a jurisdiction that is under an OCR Title VI desegregation plan, OCR should be consulted on any applicable Title VI obligations. Similarly, CRD should be contacted if you are establishing a charter school in a jurisdiction under a desegregation court order in which the United States is a party to the case. You, the appropriate LEA, or your chartering authority may contact these agencies. Early consultation will speed the process for your charter school proposal and can avoid unnecessary delay or disruption in the future. Review of any new school by a court or OCR involves a case-by-case, fact-bound determination that takes into account the particular charter schools impact on the ability of the appropriate LEA to comply with its unique desegregation obligations.
|12.||What information is needed for this consultation process to be effective?|
As a first step, you should provide a copy of the charter school application to either OCR or CRD. In general, OCR and CRD are interested in the effect a new public school will have on the appropriate LEAs obligations. Your charter application will contain at least some of the information needed to make this determination, such as those items listed below.
Because charter school applications vary from state to state, and because each court order and OCR Title VI desegregation plan is different, CRD or OCR may need more information than is included in your charter application. The information below is especially helpful to CRD or OCR in evaluating the impact of your school on the LEAs desegregation obligations, although additional information may be necessary:
|13.||In the case of a court order, what does CRD do with this information?|
If your jurisdiction is under a desegregation court order where the United States is a party to the case, you should consult with CRD. When CRD receives information on your charter school, it will review your submission, its own files, and any other readily available information to see if these sources provide enough data to reach a position about the charter schools impact on compliance with the desegregation order. If more information is needed, CRD will contact you and the appropriate LEA to request the additional information.
In many cases, the limited number of students enrolled in a charter school does not have a significant impact on the attendance patterns and enrollment in the appropriate LEAs other schools, and does not adversely affect compliance with the desegregation order. In such cases, and in other cases where CRD concludes there is no adverse impact, CRD will advise you and the appropriate LEA that it has no objection to the proposed operation of the charter school.
If CRDs review of the information raises concerns about compliance with the desegregation order, CRD may offer suggestions and modifications that address these concerns, where appropriate.
|When an LEA is subject to a desegregation court order, it is the court, not DOJ, that determines whether or not to approve a new school. Where approval is required, the court will ask the other parties to the case, including DOJ, for their views.|
|14.||Who is responsible for notifying the court about a new charter school to obtain court approval when required?|
If your jurisdiction is under a desegregation court order, the appropriate LEA may need to have the court approve any new school, including a charter school. Where court approval is required, charter school developers should contact their LEA or SEA for information on how best to obtain the approval of the court. Where appropriate, CRD may be able to make a joint motion with a charter school or LEA to seek court approval for a new charter school. However, CRD can not represent charter school developers before the court, and can not submit motions on their behalf.
|15.||In the case of a desegregation plan, what does OCR do with this information?|
If your jurisdiction is under an OCR desegregation plan, you should consult with the OCR office that serves your state. After OCR receives information on your charter school, we promptly examine it along with the Title VI desegregation plan and any other readily available information to determine if establishing the new school would be consistent with the appropriate LEAs Title VI obligations. If OCR needs more information, we will contact you and the appropriate LEA. In many cases, a charter school does not adversely affect compliance with the OCR Title VI desegregation plan because the limited number of students enrolled has a minimal effect on the attendance patterns and enrollment in the LEAs other schools. In such cases, and in other cases where OCR concludes there is no adverse impact, OCR will advise you and the appropriate LEA that it has no objection to the proposed operation of the charter school.
If OCRs review of the information raises concerns about compliance with the LEAs Title VI obligations, OCR may offer suggestions and modifications that address these concerns, where appropriate.
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