In 2009 the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights pulled some historical District data to review. In 2013 the OCR contacted the District to discuss their analysis of the data. As a result of that conversation, in the fall of 2013 the District signed a Settlement Agreement to address concerns that arose during the data review. Over the past three years the District has been working with OCR to complete fourteen program improvement items outlined in the agreement. The OCR has been able to verify completion of six of these items based on District document submissions. As a normal part of the agreement process, the OCR will be visiting the District this spring to validate completion of the other items. As more details are confirmed I will continue to keep you up to speed on the process.As of now, this is all I know about the site visit. I’ll post more information as it becomes available.
A bit more background: The concerns that the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) identified in 2013 involved the disparate treatment of African-American children in special education placement decisions. An OCR press release summarized the concerns:
OCR reviewed the files of all students who were initially evaluated for special education. OCR identified several African American students, particularly very young elementary students, who were identified as eligible for special education due to behavior issues and were placed in special education for a large percentage of the school day, and noted that some white students of similar ages identified as eligible for special education for behavior were placed in special education for a smaller percentage of the school day. OCR also identified several students who were found eligible for special education even though the presence of one or more potential exclusionary factors was noted in the file. Further, OCR found several students identified as eligible for special education despite scores that did not appear to be significantly discrepant from their peers.In the settlement that our district reached with the OCR in 2013, the district agreed to take specific remedial measures designed to ensure that the district does not treat African-American children differently from other children in special education placement. You can read the Settlement Agreement here; the OCR press release about the settlement agreement is here.