Office for Civil Rights Annual Report to Congress FY 2003

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Examples of OCR Case Resolutions

OCR's enforcement program is having a profound influence on the lives of people, at all education levels, across the country. Below are some examples.

Admitting Students Without Regard to Sex

A male applicant alleged that he was denied admission to a college nursing program because of his sex. OCR mediated a resolution and the college admitted him to its nursing program.

"I cannot speak highly enough of the services that your office provides or about the quality and dedication of the people who work there."

May 15, 2003, letter from an attorney
representing a family who filed a
discrimination complaint with OCR

Extending Intercollegiate Athletic Opportunities to Older Students

A 31-year old student was denied an opportunity to try out for the university football team because of his age. The university resolved the complaint by offering him a tryout, using the same selection criteria applied to other students.

Making School Programs Accessible to Students with Disabilities

A school district conducted an annual field trip to an inaccessible theater. Mobility-impaired students were carried from the bus to the second floor of the theater to see the performance and placed in seats or fold-up strollers. Because the theater is a National Historic landmark, structural changes could not be made to provide physical access to the second floor. However, as a result of an on-site investigation, OCR determined there was an accessible first floor dinner theater nearby and management was willing to relocate performances there. The district agreed to this arrangement and students can now be taken in their wheelchairs to the accessible theater location.

Eliminating Shortened School Day for Students with Disabilities

Special education students were routinely dismissed earlier than other students in one school district. This resulted in a shorter school week of up to two hours for some disabled students. The district agreed to stop this practice unless early release time is specified in a student's individualized education program.

Providing Auxiliary Aids for Students with Disabilities

A hearing-impaired student alleged that a university denied her the service of note takers and dismissed her after she failed several courses. The university resolved the complaint by reinstating the student and providing free tuition for six credit hours. The university assured that note takers would be provided for all her future classes.

At another university, OCR found that interpreters were routinely 25-35 minutes late for their assigned classes. One student was dropped from class because the interpreter was not present during roll call. Under the resolution agreement, students who use interpreter services will be asked to provide feedback that will determine whether interpreters are retained.

Assigning Students Without Regard to Race

OCR investigated a complaint by a parent that an elementary school has been reassigning students on the basis of their race for several years. The parent also alleged that his son, who is African American, was reassigned from a kindergarten class with White students and a White teacher to an all minority class with a minority teacher. OCR's investigation established that the school was not following its own nondiscriminatory assignment policy, which led to racially segregated classrooms. The district is now assigning students without regard to race.

OCR resolved another complaint, which alleged that a school district's open enrollment process resulted in discrimination against White students and non-African American minority students. OCR found that the district divided applications for each school into "black" and "non-black" and then selected by lottery three applicants from the pool of black applicants for every two non-black applicants selected. To resolve this matter, the district assured OCR that the dual lottery system would no longer be employed to select students for assignment and that race would no longer be a factor in the allocation of available open enrollment slots.

Making Academic Adjustments for Students with Disabilities

A law school student with a disability alleged that the school denied a request for academic adjustments, which resulted in her academic dismissal. The law school resolved the complaint by permitting the student to retake an examination with the necessary academic adjustments. If the student passes the examination, the law school will readmit the student.

OCR received another complaint alleging a state board of regents denied accommodations for its General Educational Development test for a student with disabilities. The state board resolved the complaint by allowing the student extended time and the use of a calculator.

"The past three years of fighting day after day, year after year, have been most difficult test of my life. There was a lot of hurt and despair. There was the point where I hit rock bottom and I was left to try to put back the pieces of shattered lives… I have never felt so much hurt. But, it is over finally. Thank you for all that you have done and for making a difference in my life as well as [my son]."

March 9, 2003, letter sent to
an OCR enforcement office

Delivering Services in Correctional Facilities

A state agency entered into a resolution agreement after OCR completed a compliance review of services for English language learners at 12 correctional facilities for youthful offenders. The review found a number of violations in identifying and providing instructional programs to English language learners and the lack of qualified personnel to deliver services. As a result of the agreement, the state legislature appropriated $1.2 million for curricular materials and teacher training for the 2003-04 school year.

Providing Transportation Services for Students with Disabilities

One of OCR's enforcement offices received a complaint from a parent alleging that a school district was not providing her daughter, who has a disability, with transportation services from an after-school program as required in her individualized education program (IEP). After being contacted by OCR, the district agreed to provide transportation from after-school activities in accordance with the student's IEP. The district also agreed to reimburse the parent for the expenses she had incurred while transporting her daughter from after-school activities.

"The school started working on paving the paths to the portable classrooms the end of the second week in December…There are now blacktop-paved paths to the portable buildings that my daughter…needs to negotiate in the wheelchair. The paved paths make a big difference. It is much easier for her to get around independently in the wheelchair."

January 10, 2003, letter from parent
whose complaint was resolved by OCR

Upgrading Facilities for Female Athletes

A complaint alleged that the quality of interscholastic practice and competitive facilities provided to female athletes in a school district was inferior to facilities provided to male athletes. The district developed a detailed plan of improvement and a specific timeline to complete modifications to practice and competitive facilities so that female athletes are afforded comparable facilities.

Providing Educational Support Services for Students with Disabilities

The parent of a high school student contacted OCR about her son not being provided with the instructional support services that were outlined in his IEP. OCR determined that some teachers were not fully aware of the services that the student was supposed to be receiving and did not know how to raise that issue with school administrators. The school district entered into an agreement, which included training teachers on the importance of fully implementing a disabled student's IEP and on the process to follow if they believe that IEP services are not being provided or if they believe that additional or different services are needed.

Ensuring Opportunity for Students with Disabilities to Participate in School Graduation

A high school student with a psychological disorder was denied the opportunity to walk with his graduating class during the commencement exercise. The district felt the student constituted a threat to himself and others. In investigating the complaint, OCR found that the decision was made unilaterally by a school administrator without input from the student's IEP team and based on assessments from the previous school year. The district agreed that in the future it would make such decisions based on the determination of an IEP team and on current and complete evaluation information.

"Our President has called upon this nation to commit itself to a bold vision. He's called upon us to create in this nation an education system that educates all of our children, an education system which leaves no children behind. This is our goal. It is not to educate some of the children, but to educate all of them well."

Rod Paige
Secretary of Education
July 12, 2003

Making Libraries Accessible to the Community

A complaint was received alleging that a city library was not accessible to persons with mobility impairments. The complaint was investigated under Title II and, after OCR pointed out several concerns, the library identified a way to make its programs and services accessible.

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Last Modified: 08/13/2014