The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) on Wednesday released guidance to states, school districts, and schools to clarify how federal law requires the equitable distribution of resources to students under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, in addition to how they will enforce the provisions.
“Today’s announcement marks the biggest leap forward in advancing resource equity for minority students in memory,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “By taking a muscular approach to enforcing our nation’s civil rights laws on behalf of students, the Department of Education is renewing its historic commitment to ensuring that all students receive the educational opportunities they are entitled to under the law.”
The announcement came in the form of a Dear Colleague letter which warned that, “Too often, school districts with higher enrollments of students of color invest thousands of dollars less per student in their facilities than those districts with predominantly white enrollments.” The letter restates OCR’s role as the enforcer of Title VI, which prohibits – in programs that receive federal funds – any discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin.
“We are impressed with the many school district, educators and state leaders’ efforts to deliver high-quality education on an equal basis,” said Catherine Lhamon, assistant secretary at OCR, “and we are committed to taking strong action where necessary to correct persistent opportunity gaps that violate the laws we enforce.”
For more materials on OCR’s guidance, click here. For more on making equal educational opportunities a reality for every child in the United States, read an April 2013 Leadership Conference Education Fund report here.