“ Racial segregation has come back to public education with a vengeance.”

Jonathan Kozol

Educational Equity and the Law

Tools from the Office for Civil Rights

Educational leaders must have the tools to lead courageously for equity and access for all students. Leading for equity means intentionally bringing together children of all backgrounds, races and ethnicities across the educational setting – and ending entrenched patterns that result in the marginalization of students of color in ways big and small. Understanding the legal landscape and district data patterns is the first step for making change.

A series of workshops for educational leaders discuss legal standards and targeted data analysis needed to intentionally plan systemic equity for all students. The trainings outline the standards used by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in matters such as:

  • School Integration and the Law – Legal Standards and Practical Methodology for Increasing Student Diversity
  • Access to High Track Programs – Addressing Racial Patterns in Tracking
  • Equity in Special Education PlacementUsing the Legal Framework to Ensure Proper Identification and Placement
  • Student DisciplineData Analysis and Policy Reform for Ending the “School to Prison Pipeline” for Students of Color

School Integration and the Law 

It is a widely held misconception that the use of race or ethnicity is entirely prohibited in school admissions, preventing any change to current patterns of segregation within districts. This workshop will cover the legal standard regarding the voluntary use of race in student assignment, as well as the variety of legally acceptable and practical options for achieving greater diversity in schools.

Access to High Track Programs

Even when schools are racially mixed, students of color are often underrepresented in gifted and talented and other high track courses, worsening achievement and opportunity gaps. Often this pattern is due to a variety of outreach and placement approaches that have a disparate impact on underrepresented groups. Understanding OCR’s approach to addressing student tracking can assist in developing more equitable and educationally sound placement criteria and programming.

Equity in Special Education Placement

The overrepresentation of students of color in special education is widely prevalent. What trends are present in your district and why? This workshop will unpack the legal standards around equity in referring and placing students into special education, and will give participants the opportunity to share strategies for striking the proper balance so as to neither over- nor under-classify students along racial or ethnic lines.

Race and Student Discipline

Students of color, especially males, are often disciplined more frequently and more severely than their white peers, often with lasting consequences. Remedying this problem begins with policy revision, routine data analysis and community engagement. This workshop will give educational leaders the tools to develop an action plan to begin to stop the “School-to-Prison Pipeline” for students of color.