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Equity Review Process

Both federal and state laws require that there be no discrimination in educational programs or in school hiring practices on the basis of race, national origin, color, religion, creed, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity and marital status. The Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education requires state education agencies to develop "Methods of Administration" to reasonably assure that sub-recipients of federal financial assistance are in compliance with federal civil rights laws and to correct areas of non-compliance. The federal civil rights laws include:

  • Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (gender equity), (link to law below)
  • Title VI Civil Rights Act of 1964 (race and national origin equity), (link to law below)
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (disability equity), (link to law below)
  • Title II - Americans with Disabilities of 1990 (disability equity), (link to law below)
  • Office for Civil rights Guidelines for Eliminating Discrimination in Vocational Education (equity in vocational programs) (link to law below)

The Department of Education has the legal responsibility to monitor compliance with these equity-related requirements in school districts receiving federal and state funding. The Equity Review Process is one way the department carries out this responsibility. While all accreditation/school improvement visits incorporate components of equity and civil rights, some school districts are selected each year to receive a focused equity visit. There are several criteria used to determine who will have an equity review each year. The universe from which school districts are selected for equity reviews includes all the school districts that are scheduled to have a school improvement/accreditation visit in a given year. The criteria used to select districts from that universe include; (1) A review of course and program enrollment data in career and technical programs disaggregated on the basis of gender, disability and racial/ethnic background; (2) Changing demographics within the boundaries of an educational agency; (3) Complaints received from parents, students, staff, applicants for employment or community representatives and referrals from elapsed since the district's last equity review. The Iowa Department of Education is required to submit a Targeting Plan every two years to the Office for Civil Rights. The Targeting Plan for the 2015-2017 biennial period is provided here:

2015-2017 Iowa Targeting Plan Revised 2-6-15

2015-2016 Equity Review Site Visit Documents

Summary of New Equity Guidance

Current Sample of Nondiscrimination Notifications

ADA Arrow Chart to Determine Applicable Standards

2015-2016 Equity Site Visit Training for Districts 9-4-15 Handout

2015-2016 Overview Presentation Guidelines for Equity Site Visits

2015-2016 Equity Document Review Checklist

2015-2016 Equity On-Site Manual

2015-2016 Equity On-Site Manual in WORD

2015-2016 Guidance for Nondiscrimination Notices

2015-2016 Required On-Site Interview Groups

2015-2016 Sample Equity Visit Schedule

2015-2016 Sample Equity Visit Schedule in WORD

2015-2017 Iowa Targeting Plan - Revised 2-6-15

ADA Checklist

ADA Checklist word-fillable-form

Equity Coordinator Responsibilities Checklist

Equity Data Table 2015-2016 Workbook

Iowa Educational Equity Review Process 2015-2016

Role and Function of the Equity Coordinator 2015-2016



Office for Civil Rights - Dear Colleague Letters

“The mission of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation through vigorous enforcement of civil rights.”

Periodically, OCR publicizes a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) to provide guidance relative to various civil rights laws and implications for federally-funded educational institutions. The following DCLs contain critical information related to several important issues, such as harassment based on disability, sex, race or national origin. For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights webpage.

2015-4-24 DCL Title IX Coordinators Guide

2015-4-24 DCL Title IX Coordinators

2015-4-24 DCL Title IX Coordinators-letters

2015-1-7 DCL English Language Learners

2014-10-21 DCL Bullying of Students with Disabilities

2014-11-12 DCL Effective Communication

2013-08-20 DCL: Bullying and FAPE

2013-01-25 DCL: Extracurricular Activities and Disabilities

2012-12-07 DCL: Peer Racial Harassment; School Liability

2011-05-06 DCL: Student Enrollment Practices

2011-04-04 DCL: Sexual Violence

2010-10-26 DCL: Harassment and Bullying

2000-07-25 DCL: Prohibited Disability Harassment

Federal Civil Rights Legislation

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (gender equity)

Title VI Civil Rights Act of 1964 (race and national origin equity)

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (disability equity)

2010 - ADA Standards (disability equity)

Guidelines for Eliminating Discrimination in Vocational Education (equity in vocational programs)

Equity Resources


Common Core Must Ensure Equity

Equity Resources Handout

Equity Toolkit

Multicultural Gender Fair

Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action Plan Guidance



Midwest Equity Assistance Center: College of Education, 401 Bluemont Hall, 1100 Mid-Campus Drive Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas 66506-5307 913-532-6486. The Midwest Center is a federally funded agency which provides equity-related technical assistance to school districts in Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, and Kansas. At the request of public school districts, including charter and magnet schools, center staff provide a variety of free services and resources, including professional development workshops, institutes, conferences, and in in-service training for teachers, administrators and parents.

Iowa Safe Schools: works to create safe and supportive learning environments and communities for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth through outreach, education, and advocacy.

Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN): Organization for students, parents, and teachers that tries to affect positive change in schools.

National Women’s Law Center:  Provides common characteristics and best practices in programs that have been successful in recruiting and retaining students in career and technical education programs that are non-traditional for their gender.   For more information on providing equal access visit the website at

Iowa Department of Human Rights (DHR) is a state agency with a mission to ensure basic rights, freedoms, and opportunities for all by empowering underrepresented Iowans and eliminating economic, social, and cultural barriers.

Anti-Defamation League (ADL Creating an Anti-Bias Learning Environment is a website that provides activities, lessons plans, and more from the Anti-Defamation league. It assists educators to create educational environments that reflect the rich diversity of the community, nation, and world assist in opening students' minds and actively engaging them in their learning. 

The National Alliance for Partnerships on Equity (NAPE): Is a consortium of state and local agencies, corporations, and national organizations that collaborate to create equitable and diverse classrooms and workplaces where there are no barriers to opportunities. Its emphasis is on Career and Technical Education, gender equity, and non-traditional careers.

Race Card Project: NPR commentator Michele Norris. You are invited to participate in a little exercise. Think about the word RACE. Now, think about how you would express your thoughts about RACE and ethnicity in just SIX WORDS.  Your experiences, thoughts, triumphs, laments, theory or anthem expressed in six words. Please send your thoughts (6 Words) to:

Iowa Department of Education Equity Education Webpage: Provides information for districts receiving a focused equity visit and Dear Colleague Letters from the Office for Civil Rights:   

Office for Civil Rights (OCR) United States Department of Education: The mission of the Office for Civil Rights is to ensure equal access to Education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation through vigorous enforcement of civil rights. The office serves student populations facing discrimination and the advocates and institutions promoting systemic solutions to civil rights problems. OCR provides technical assistance to help institutions achieve voluntary compliance with the civil rights laws that OCR enforces. An important part of OCR's technical assistance is partnerships designed to develop creative approaches to preventing and addressing discrimination. Dear Colleague Letters provide U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, Customer Service Team, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20202-1100, Telephone:1-800-421-3481, FAX: 202-245-6840; TDD: 877-521-2172, Email:



Cultural Proficiency: A Manual for School Leaders, by Dr. Randall Lindsey

Teaching with Poverty in Mind or Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind, by Eric Jensen

Banks, James and Banks Cheryl: Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives (6th Edition) @ 2007 John Wiley and Sons

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on November 28, 2015 at 9:19am.