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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 (OCR) 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 Iowa 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. The department has an approved OCR targeting plan to determine which districts are selected 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 school districts which serve grades 9-12. 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, (4) Time 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 2017–2019 biennial period is provided here:
2019–2020 Equity Review Site Visit Documents
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.