On November 15, 2023, the U.S. Department of Education’s (“Department”) Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) released new civil rights data from the 2020-2021 school year, as well as seven data reports and snapshots which provide an overview of that data. OCR also launched a redesigned Civil Rights Data Collection (“CRDC”) website that includes public-use data files, reports, and snapshots, which school districts can use to review their own and other districts’ data, available here.Continue Reading Civil Rights Data on Students’ Access to Educational Opportunities During the Pandemic Released by U.S. Department of Education

In 2023, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) released a Fact Sheet on Ensuring Meaningful Participation in Advanced Coursework and Specialized Programs for Students Who Are English Learners (“Fact Sheet”), which is available here. The Fact Sheet provides data showing OCR found that students who are English Learners (“ELs”) have lower participation rates in specialized or advanced programs offered at elementary and secondary schools. OCR noted that schools must ensure eligibility for such programs, such as evaluation and testing procedures, do not screen out ELs because of their limited English proficiency, unless a program requires English proficiency for participation.Continue Reading OCR Fact Sheet on Ensuring Meaningful Participation in Advanced Coursework and Specialized Programs for Students Who Are English Learners

School districts often have gender-based dress codes, outlining specific requirements for students such as mandating a particular skirt length for female students or prohibiting muscle shirts for male students. In late 2022, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on school dress codes that made multiple findings regarding the disproportionate impact of dress codes on girls and minorities. Continue Reading The Intersection of School Dress Code Policies and Title IX

On November 17, 2022, a federal judge in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida entered a temporary injunction against portions of Florida’s Individual Freedom Act that restricts how Florida’s public college and university professors present their curriculum and what students can and cannot learn in the classroom. The temporary injunction does not apply to Florida’s K-12 public school teachers.Continue Reading Florida Judge Pauses Enforcement of Florida’s Individual Freedom Act

On October 31, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States (“SCOTUS” or “the Court”) heard oral arguments in two cases challenging the race-conscious student admissions policies used by Harvard University and the University of North Carolina (“UNC”) to promote diverse school enrollments. The final decision in this case likely will be released at the end of the current term—in late June or early July 2023. It could have important implications not only for colleges and universities but also for public school districts.Continue Reading Affirmative Action: The Possible K-12 Impacts of the Supreme Court Cases Involving Harvard and UNC

In July 2022, two federal district courts on opposite sides of the country issued opinions that have the potential to have a major impact on non-profits and schools not accepting federal funding throughout the country.Continue Reading Title IX’s Reach May Expand: Application to Non-Profits and Schools Not Accepting Federal Funding

Title VI Obligations

School districts have an obligation under Title VI not to discriminate on the basis of race, color or national origin. They cannot intentionally discriminate – that is, for example, treat African-American students differently than white students on the basis of race – or engage in practices that have a disparate impact on

In February 2019, the U.S. Department of Education released new Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) guidance about schools’ and school districts’ responsibilities under FERPA relating to disclosures of student information to school resource officers, law enforcement units, and other stakeholders to explain and clarify how FERPA protects student privacy while ensuring the health and safety of all in the school community.  See: https://studentprivacy.ed.gov/sites/default/files/resource_document/file/SRO_FAQs_2-5-19_0.pdf.

FERPA permits schools and districts to disclose education records (and the personally identifiable information (“PII”) contained in those records) without consent if the “school officials” have “legitimate educational interests” in the education records.  Each school or school district must include in its annual notification what constitutes a “school official” and what constitutes a “legitimate educational interest.”  Law enforcement who are employees of a school or district, would typically be considered a “school official.”  Law enforcement that are off-duty police officers or school resource officers would typically be considered a “school official” if they fall into four specific categories.  The categories include performing an institutional service or function for which the school or district would  otherwise use employees, are under the “direct control” of the school or district with respect to the use and maintenance of the education records, are subject to FERPA’s use and re-disclosure requirements in 34 CFR § 99.33(a) allowing PII from education records to be used only for the purposes for which the disclosure was made (e.g., to promote school safety and the physical security of students) and limits the re-disclosure of PII from education records, and meets the criteria specified in the school or district’s annual notification of FERPA rights for being school officials with legitimate educational interests in the education records.
Continue Reading New FERPA Guidance from the U.S. Department of Education Relating to School Safety

The Department of Education (“ED” or the “Department”) issued its long-awaited Notice of Proposed Rulemaking[1] to amend regulations implementing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”) on November 29, 2018. Comments to the proposed regulation are due on or before January 30, 2019. Here are ten notice requirements the proposed regulation would impose on elementary and secondary schools if they become final.
Continue Reading 10 Notice Requirements in the Department of Education’s Proposed Title IX Regulations

The Department of Education (“ED” or the “Department”) issued its long-awaited Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to amend regulations implementing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”) on November 29, 2018. As the Department has acknowledged, the proposed rules would adopt standards that significantly depart from those set forth in prior ED regulations and guidance under Title IX. Although much of the debate regarding the proposed rules has focused on institutions of higher education’s treatment of sexual harassment, the proposed rules also would significantly impact elementary and secondary schools. Husch Blackwell’s education team offers the following overview of the proposed rules, with a focus on the Department’s regulation of K-12 institutions.
Continue Reading Department of Education Issues New Title IX Regulations: What this Means for Elementary and Secondary Schools