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Over the last several years, equity citations are the most frequent areas of non-compliance cited during accreditation and focused equity visits.
To address confusion about the responsibilities of the equity coordinator, the Iowa Department of Education is sponsoring a free one-day Statewide Civil Rights and Equity Coordinator Training on Monday, March 23, from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines.
- Registration and light breakfast from 7:30 to 9:00
- Speakers and workshops from 9:00 to 3:30
- Study Hall with conference speakers from 3:30 to 5:00
Intended audiences include district-level, Area Education Agency and Community College equity coordinators, superintendents, human resource specialists, principals, and counselors.
The training will include information on the six responsibilities of the equity coordinator:
- Knowledge of federal and state civil rights laws;
- Equity policies and procedures required by law;
- Dissemination of information to staff, students and community;
- Professional development on rights and responsibilities;
- Civil rights grievance process which is prompt and effective; and
- Monitoring of disaggregated data.
Special emphasis will be placed on closing the achievement gap, preventing and reducing bullying and harassment behaviors, and meeting the needs of students with disabilities.
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 2013-2015 biennial period is provided here:
2014-2015 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.
Federal Civil Rights Legislation
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. http://www.meac.org/
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. http://www.iowasafeschools.org/
Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN): Organization for students, parents, and teachers that tries to affect positive change in schools. http://www.glsen.org/
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 http://www.nwlc.org/.
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. http://www.humanrights.iowa.gov/
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. http://www.adl.org/
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. http://www.napequity.org
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: http://theracecardproject.com/
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: https://www.educateiowa.gov/pk-12/accreditation-program-approval/equity-education
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: OCR@ed.gov
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