Session 6: CTE Civil Rights Review Process

Good afternoon, and welcome to the Professional
Development Series sponsored by the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education
in the Virginia Department of Education. This presentation will focus on the CTE Civil Rights
Review Process. I am Bill Hatch, the CTE Planning, Administration, and Accountability Coordinator,
and I’m looking forward to seeing you at the VACTEA conference in October.
Today I’ll be spending time with you during this presentation to help explain the components
of the CTE Civil Rights Review Process. This presentation may be used for self-assessment
purposes, in preparation for an on-site visit, although in neither case would it have to
be completed nor submitted to VDOE. We’ll be looking at the review process, briefly
touching on the federal laws and regulations and the shared responsibilities, and then
going a bit deeper into the process itself, with the steps before the on-site review,
the scope of the on-site review visit, and, finally, the steps after the on-site review.
The purpose of the review process to is ensure that each student enjoys an equal access to
CTE programs and activities, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, or disability.
In conducting the review process the VDOE fulfills its obligation to the U.S. Department
of Education’s Office for Civil Rights division, or OCR, to review and assist school divisions
regarding the civil rights laws and regulations as they relate to CTE.
In looking at the federal laws and regulations, I will only touch on these because of the
complexity. We’ll start with the guidelines. They set the requirements and provide the
guidance to review, including what data is collected and how to analyze the data, the
parameters to perform the review. In carrying out these guidelines, VDOE follows the review
process, provides technical assistance to the division, and reports the activities and
findings back to OCR. And finally, OCR critically reviews our work on a two-year basis and then
provides a detailed response that sometimes includes actions for us to consider or correct.
The laws are Title 6 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This prohibits discrimination on
the basis of race, color, and national origin. Next is Title nine of the Education Amendments
of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. We also look at Section
504 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and this prohibits discrimination on the basis
of disability. And then finally, Title 2 of the Americans with Disabilities Act, or the
ADA, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by public entities, and
that would include school divisions. So, why is CTE interrelated with the Civil
Rights Review? In the 1970s there was a lawsuit against what is now the U.S. Department of
Education to enforce civil rights requirements in CTE programs. And, as a result, the guidelines
that we talked about a minute ago were created as the foundation of the CTE Civil Rights
Review, or Method of Administration, or MOA, review process, and these guidelines continue
to regulate the process today. As a best practice, this review should be
a shared responsibility. There are many division personnel that have a stake in this process,
including the superintendent; the CTE Director, who is usually our primary contact; the director
of facilities, who we work with on facility accessibility issues; the director of human
resources; the Title 9 coordinator; the Section 504 coordinator; and also the directors of
special education, counseling, and ESL, who are needed in this process. And when we go
out to the schools, we’ll be meeting with the principals and other school personnel
and students to learn more about the division. The complete CTE Civil Rights Review process
includes the Targeting Plan, Identification Letter, Request for Information, On-site Visit,
Letter of Findings, Voluntary Compliance Plan, Monitoring, and finally, the Letter of Completion.
As we go through the steps of the CTE Civil Rights Review process that occur before the
on-site visit, I want to talk more about the targeting plans. All 132 school divisions
are included in a targeting pool on a 6-year cycle, with about 22 school divisions per
year. We look at the targeting plan rubric that OCR has approved, and we use that to
rank the school divisions. OCR requires Virginia to review four divisions per year, so VDOE
identifies the top four from the targeting pool that have earned the most points in the
targeting rubric. A letter of identification is then sent to each superintendent of those
four school divisions explaining the purpose, the process, and the VDOE contact information.
From that point on, we establish a series of formal phone conversations with a team
from the identified school divisions to explain all parts of the review process and develop
a working relationship. The next step before the on-site visit is
where we officially request documentation and information prior to coming on site. Again,
we have a number of scheduled conference calls and provide the division director with an
administrator overview that thoroughly describes the review process.
That brings us to the scope of the on-site visit. We are going to spend a good deal the
portion of this presentation today looking at this area and then pick it back up later
in the presentation with the steps after the on-site. Once the team arrives on site, VDOE
conducts the interviews with the school and central office administrators, school counselors,
teachers, and also with the students, with a standard set of questions to determine the
level of compliance in the following areas: Program Accessibility, Facility Accessibility,
Facility Comparability. And under Program Accessibility, there are sections for Administrative,
Site Location, Student Eligibility, Access and Admission, Recruitment, Student Financial
Assistance, Career Guidance and School Counseling, Services for Students with Disabilities, Work-Based
Learning, and Employment. Finally, during the walk-throughs, we’ll be looking at physical
Facility Accessibility and Facility Comparability. I will go over each of these areas as we continue.
Let’s start with the Administrative section. The team will be looking at the procedures
your division has in place to ensure nondiscrimination. This includes your notice of nondiscrimination,
the grievance procedures that are disseminated to the parents, students, and staff, so that
each knows how to report the discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin,
sex, or disability, and then also the steps of the complaint process. And then there’s
the annual notice of nondiscrimination, which includes the designation of the person or
persons that will coordinate the activities under Title 9 and Section 504, and then Title
2 of the ADA. And lastly, if there is a community of national origin that does not speak English,
those procedures must also be published in that other language, as well as English. In
determining whether there is a community of national origin, the enrollment of the national
origin would need to be approximately 5 percent of the total of the division.
The next section is Site Location and Student Eligibility. This ensures that the eligibility
criteria for admission to divisions’ programs or facilities in local or regional CTE centers
does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, or disability.
The Access and Admission section ensures that the admission criteria to CTE programs or
courses does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, or disability.
When looking at whether a school division has nondiscriminatory admission practices,
one of the first things we do is to compare the school division’s CTE enrollment demographics
to the overall student demographics at the school or school division. In each case, we
will look to see if there’s a representative percentage for each group in CTE within that
division. I also encourage you to look outside the scope
of this review and consider the student demographic enrollment percentages for things like the
higher-level mathematics and science courses or other honors or Advanced Placement courses,
and then also, the importance of building both student interest and skills throughout
elementary, middle, and high school to help prepare all students for their career choices.
The Recruitment section includes policies and procedures and/or practices for selecting
and using representative recruitment materials to ensure that CTE opportunities are not limited
on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, or disability.
For the Student Financial Assistance section, this can include such things as reviewing
scholarship information, or the costs for dues, fees, clothing, or transportation. We
review this section to ensure that it does not discriminate on the basis of race, color,
national origin, sex, or disability, and then also that the materials are equitably written
and include a nondiscrimination statement. Next section is Career Guidance and School
Counseling. School divisions must ensure that, among other things, school counselors do not
direct a student to enroll in a particular course or predict the student’s likelihood
of success based on race, color, national origin, sex, or disability.
And then there’s the section for Services for Students with Disabilities. On the basis
of a disability, a division may not exclude a qualified student with a disability from
a course, course of study, or any part of its educational program or activities. Students
with disabilities must have a free, appropriate public education, and that the educational
decisions must be made by a knowledgeable group of people who have an understanding
of that student, the materials used to evaluate that student, and the data used to determine
the placement options. Typically, that’s going to be the Section 504 team or the IEP
team. Related instructional aides or services must also be provided as determined by the
IEP or 504 team. Academic achievement tests must measure ability and achievement, rather
than disability. Further, a student with a disability must be placed in the educational
setting most appropriate for that student’s individual needs as determined by the IEP
team. The Work-Based Learning section ensures that
opportunities are available for all students regardless of race, color, national origin,
sex, or disability. Work-training agreements must include written assurance of nondiscrimination
that are signed by both the employer and the school personnel. And the VDOE has published
a Career and Technical Education Work-Based Learning Guide that is especially helpful
resource. Next we’ll be looking at the Employment
section. Employment practices must be conducted without regard to race, color, national origin,
sex, or disability of the applicants or employees. We look at the application forms and materials
to make sure that they are free from prohibited questions relating to disability, marital
or parental status, and contain a nondiscrimination statement.
Next is Facility Compliance section. VDOE must ensure that these facilities are accessible
to students with disabilities and to make sure that students with disabilities are not
excluded from enjoying the benefits of the school, the CTE programs or services, and
including all the main common areas of the school.
So, what is a facility? Under both Title 2 of the ADA and Section 504, pretty much that
is going to be most of your buildings, your walkways, your parking lots, and they are
all part of that facility. In determining facility compliance, we look
at several factors. We consider the date that the construction was started, and that would
not be the date of the actual certificate of occupancy but the actual first shovel of
dirt for construction. And from there we identify the accessibility standards that will be used
for that facility or portion of that facility. It will either be Readily Accessible, the
ANSI standards, the UFAS standards, the ADA 1991, or the ADA 2010 standards. Then alternatively,
if there has been a substantial alteration to the wing or whole building, then we look
at that new alteration date to determine the standard for that portion of the building.
One of the things we look for is to make sure that there is appropriate signage, particularly
to the accessible entrances or restrooms. As you see, there are many directional signs
for accessible parking, building entrance, restroom, or for other areas.
Next is parking. We will make sure that there are the required number of accessible spaces,
and that the spaces meet the standards’ requirements.
And then we will look at the paths of travel. These are routes that persons with disabilities
would use to travel from one area to the other, like from the main parking lot to the entrance
of the building. And you see there are many things we look at. We look at what the surface
is. We look at the slope of the grade. We look at whether there are handrails. We look
at many things regarding the actual path of travel and certainly can include the walkways,
ramps, and lifts. Here are some of the paths of travel that
are not in compliance. Some, the grade of the ramp might be too steep. Some are aesthetically
creative but yet are not accessible. Some look ridiculous and certainly inaccessible
to a student, parent, staff, or member of the public who uses a wheelchair or has limited
mobility because the grade is too steep. Or more commonly, there are cracks in the parking
lot surface or sidewalk that would prevent access to that path of travel.
Some of the other areas that we look at in the school building’s path of travel include
drinking fountains. Some drinking fountains stick out from the wall. While the water fountain
may be accessible, but for a student who is blind or visually impaired or perhaps using
a cane, they’d be unable to detect it and walk into it. That is considered a protruding
object. If there is a student in a wheelchair coming through your buildings, the door threshold
may also be too high, and that would be inaccessible. There are some commercial products that you
can use, like in this slide in the lower right-hand corner , that has a mat-like surfaces that
reduces or eliminates the barrier and allows the wheelchair to maneuver through the doorway.
You can see the table in the bottom has a cutout for person with a disabilities to accommodate
the footrest of the wheelchair. Entrance or classroom doors are also potential obstacles.
It has to be operable with a closed fist, like the hardware that has a lever, like in
the middle hardware example. The knob on the right would be inaccessible for a student
with disabilities. Next are restrooms. We look at the grab rails
on the back and side of the toilet, the height and location of the toilet, the height and
location of the soap and paper towel dispensers, the stall and stall door width, the door hardware,
and the turning radius for a wheelchair. I want to stress the importance of this, because
if a person with a disability is not able to access a restroom, the school itself is
essentially inaccessible for that student. Finally, we look at Facility Comparability.
This is to determine whether the facilities are similar for male or female students, and
for students with and without disabilities. Perhaps it might be a locker room or the rest
room or perhaps the location of a specific facility.
That finishes up the on-site portion. Now we’ll continue with the steps after the
on-site review. After completing the review, VDOE will provide the school division with
the Letter of Findings. From that, the school division, if any noncompliance issues were
identified, will need to prepare a Voluntary Compliance Plan, or VCP. The VDOE will continue
to provide technical assistance throughout this process. The VCP details the school division’s
proposed actions to remedy the noncompliance issues. Then, VDOE will be monitoring the
school division to ensure that the compliance actions are completed. Finally, once the VCP
is completed, VDOE will issue a Letter of Closure to the superintendent.
That completes the review process. Please do not hesitate to contact me. I’ll be glad
to provide you with either information or technical assistance.
I hope that the points that I’ve covered with you today helps you feel more comfortable
with the CTE Civil Rights Review process, particularly with its purpose, the components,
and why it matters for a student to have access to our CTE programs. Please contact us if
you have any questions or concerns, and please take a few minutes to complete the evaluation
of this session. The next video stream session will be the
Beginning the Year: Financial Information, Reimbursements, and Reports, and that will
be on September 12th, 2019. Please see the contact information for George
Willcox, Director of Operations and Accountability, Kelly Davis, our Specialist, and myself. And
thank you for joining us.

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