Civil rights laws are intended to assure parents, students, school personnel, and others that vocational technical education programs in schools receiving federal funding meet the expectations set forth in legislation. These laws and regulations protect the rights of everyone involved in education without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, or disability.
The following federal laws, regulations, and presidential executive orders cover various anti-discrimination requirements affecting educational institutions and their employees and students. Enforcement of these statutes is under the jurisdiction of federal enforcement agencies, including the Office for Civil Rights of the United States Department of Education (OCR, DOE); the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC); Federal Contract Compliance (FCC); and the United States Department of Labor (DOL).
Educational institutes that receive federal funds are required to comply with Civil Rights laws, regulations and guidelines, which include the following:
- Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin.)
- Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex).
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability).
- The Age Discrimination Act of 1975 (prohibits discrimination on the basis of age).
- The US Office for Civil Rights "Discrimination and Denial of Services on the Basis of Race, Color, National Origin, Sex and Handicap" (prohibits unlawful discrimination in vocational education programs.)
Guidelines: These guidelines explain the civil rights responsibilities of recipients of Federal funds offering or administering vocational education programs.
Title IX (sex/gender): The Education amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex/gender in education programs receiving or benefiting from federal financial assistance. The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare issued regulations implementing Title IX in 1975.
Sexual Harassment Guidance: Harassment of Students by School Employees, Other Students, or Third Parties. The Guidance provides information regarding the standards that are used by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), and that should be used to investigate and resolve allegations of sexual harassment of students engaged in by school employees, other students (peers)
Section 504 (disabilities): The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare issued regulations implementing Section 504 in 1977.
Americans with Disabilities Act: Prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by public entities. It extends the prohibition of discrimination in federally assisted programs established by section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to all activities of state and local governments, including those that do not receive federal financial assistance. Effective date: January 26, 1992.
Section 508: Standards which Federal agencies must follow in constructing their own web pages. The Department of Justice has information about accessible web page design in an April 2000 report to the President. The General Services Administration hosts an online course for web developers interested in accessible web design. This program was developed in conjunction with the Access Board, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Education and provides an interactive demonstration of how to build accessible web pages. This course is available at www.section508.gov.
Onsite Civil Rights Review
The South Dakota Department of Education (SD DOE), as a recipient of federal education funds, is required by the United States Department of Education, to conduct Civil Rights (CR) reviews of schools within districts and of postsecondary institutions that:
1. receive federal funds and
2. offer Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs.
The purpose of the review is to ensure that schools and districts are providing access for all students to educational programs in compliance with the requirements of the following federal Civil Rights statutes:
U.S. Department of Education
- Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI), 34 CFR Part 100
- Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), 34 CFR Part 106
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), 34 CFR Part 104
- Vocational Education Programs Guidelines for Eliminating Discrimination and Denial of Services on the Basis of Race, Color, and National Origin, Sex and Handicap (Guidelines), 34 CFR Part 100 Appendix B
U.S. Department of Justice
- Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Title II), 28 CFR Part 35
Affected protected groups under these statutes include “race, color, national origin, sex (gender), disabilities,” and at the postsecondary level, “age.”
Among other criteria, the main criteria used in selecting a high school are based on (1) the high school receiving a CTE program approval process in a given year and (2) the high school rising to one of the top positions in the analyses of various attendance data in CTE programs. Similar criteria are used in selecting postsecondary institutions.
How the Assessments Are Conducted
The intent of the review is to assist school districts and postsecondary institutions meet the civil rights requirements, to prevent future costly problems, and to offer technical assistance to the districts and postsecondary institutions where corrective actions are needed.
Particular items need to be fowarded to SD DOE at least two weeks before the review occurs. The reviewer will notify the school district and request the necessary items.
The review typically involves only one day. The date and time is determined ahead of time between the reviewer and school contact.
Elements of the review include study of particular school records and documents, a building measurement walk through, and interviews with students, parents, as well as district and school personnel.
Finally, the review is not intended to penalize recipients for findings, but is designed to help find and fix issues regarding civil rights.
After the Onsite Review
Typically, a few follow-up phone calls are necessary to collect information that may be needed to complete the review process.
The reviewer then compiles the findings and creates a report called Letter of Findings (LOF). The LOF is mailed to the district superintendent for review and response as well as to solicit any explanations as needed.
Depending upon the circumstances, the reviewed school has between 30 and 40 calendar days to respond to the LOF with a very specific plan called a Voluntary Compliance Plan (VCP) listing:
- what solutions will be applied to each noncompliance item,
- the intended completion date, and
- who is most responsible to see each item to closure.
The school is required to rectify noncompliance issues in a manner that meets the statutes. The school has a year or less depending upon the severity of the noncompliance to rectify the issues.
Within one year of the accepted VCP, the reviewer may conduct a follow-up onsite review to assess whether the rectified noncompliance items are now in compliance. Typically, this review is shorter than the initial onsite review.
If any item is incomplete, SD DOE is required to keep the file active and to conduct further follow-up reviews, training, etc.
South Dakota Department of Education Carol Uecker
Department of Education
800 Governors Drive, Pierre, SD 57501
Phone: (605) 773-4771
The regional Office for Civil Rights
Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Education
One Petticoat Lane
1010 Walnut St, 3rd Fl. Ste 320
Kansas City, MO 64106
FAX: 816-268-0599; TDD: 800-877-8339
Web site: www.ed.gov