In a Dear Colleague letter, the
U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released new guidance [PDF] confirming
that the same federal civil rights laws that apply to other public schools apply
equally to public charter schools. The new guidance highlights critical subjects
that have arisen in charter schools, including the schools' obligations to avoid
discrimination in admissions practices and the administration of discipline, to
provide a free appropriate public education for students with disabilities, and
to take affirmative steps to assist English learners.
The last OCR guidance on this topic was in 2000. OCR's mission is to ensure
equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the
nation through vigorous enforcement of civil rights. The office enforces a
number of federal civil rights laws that apply to charter schools, including
laws that prohibit discrimination based on disability; race, color, or national
origin; and sex. In addition to issuing general guidance documents, OCR
investigates complaints of civil rights violations and provides technical
assistance to help educational institutions achieve voluntary compliance with
their civil rights obligations.
For more information
website or contact Catherine D. Clarke, ASHA's director of education and
regulatory advocacy, at [email protected] or 800-498-2071, ext.