AASA Webinar and Summary re New Title VI Guidance from OCR

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Today, the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights released significant new guidance for districts clarifying the legal obligations under Title VI to ensure school districts are distributing resources comparably between schools. AASA is proud to offer a webinar on the new guidance and the major implications it has for how districts currently distribute resources between schools on October 21st at 3 pm ET. The webinar will be led by Maree Sneed of Hogan Lovells. The discussion will be especially focused on what school superintendents and administrators need to know in order to proactively ensure compliance with the new guidance. There are limited spots available for the webinar, so reserve your place here: https://knowledgecenter.webex.com/knowledgecenter/onstage/g.php?t=a&d=299871998

You can read an abbreviated summary of the guidance below.

Today, the Office of Civil Rights released significant new guidance for districts clarifying the legal obligations under Title VI to ensure school districts are distributing resources comparably between schools. While OCR acknowledges that intradistrict and interdistrict funding disparities often mirror differences in racial and socio-economic demographics of schools and differences in property tax revenue for schools, OCR asserts that some districts are still disparately funding schools within the same district where the racial make-up of students varies meaningfully. The guidance describes the legal framework OCR will use to determine whether educational resources are allocated in a discriminatory manner. The two theories are intentional discrimination and disparate impact.

The guidance also describes in great detail the criteria OCR will use to determine whether school districts are discriminating against students based on race, color or national origin in their allocation of educational resources. They are clear to note that they are not simply looking for a dollar-to-dollar match to monitor compliance, but rather the “relative allocation of equal educational opportunities” for students. For example, OCR may compare a school’s resources against district averages or against district schools serving the most and fewest students of a particular race to assess whether the alleged resource disparities are, in fact, correlated with Title VI criteria. They specifically describe how they will use the following criteria to determine equitable resource allocation: courses, academic programs and extracurricular activities; strong teaching, leadership and support; school facilities; and technology and instructional materials. Here are a few examples from the guidance of how they will measure the allocation of educational opportunities for students.

Example 1: OCR may consider the overall quality and adequacy of special education programs at the school level, including the identification, evaluation and placement procedures as well as quality and appropriateness of services and supports provided to students with disabilities.
Example 2: OCR will review and analyze data on teacher and leader effectiveness produced by teacher and leader evaluations and data on the relative stability of the teacher workforce across a district, including teacher turnover, absenteeism, use of substitutes and vacancies and whether a district provides equitable resources to improve teacher quality and retention.
Example 3: OCR will consider the ratio of pupils to paraprofessionals and the qualifications of those paraprofessionals as well as the amount of training, professional development and supervision given to paraprofessionals and the roles they play in the classroom.
Example 4: OCR will evaluate the overall physical condition of a district’s facilities and the availability of sufficient maintenance staff. They will also consider the location and surrounding environment of school building and facilities as well as the availability and quality of transportation services provided to students.
Example 5: OCR generally considers the number, type and age of educational technology devices available in a school and this assessment includes the availability and speed of internet access. They will also consider whether the technology is located within the classroom and how many hours a week students have access to the technology during and after school.

OCR urges districts to proactively identify and address racial disparities in resource allocation and take proactive, concrete steps to address the root causes of these disparities to comply with Title VI. The guidance also contains examples of what remedies districts found in noncompliance will have to take in order to become compliant

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