Toledo Public Schools, U.S. Education Department Reach Agreement to Address Issues of African American Student Access to Resources

Toledo Public Schools, U.S. Education Department Reach Agreement to Address Issues of African American Student Access to Resources

January 21, 2016

The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights and Toledo Public Schools announced today that the district has entered into a resolution agreement to ensure compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in providing equitable resources to African American students.

The agreement, reached before OCR had completed its investigation, identifies concerns about access to experienced teachers, teachers with master's degrees, library access for K-8 students, and distance learning classes for high school students.

"Toledo Public Schools' commitment through this resolution agreement, together with steps the district had begun during the course of our review, spotlight their important pledge to equity," said Catherine Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights. "Superintendent Romules Durant's efforts to examine and address racially equitable access to Toledo's resources is critical to all the district's students' academic and long-term success."

She added, "We applaud and are grateful for his and his board's leadership toward ensuring that all students receive the opportunity our nation's civil rights laws promise to them. And we look forward to working with the district to ensure that all terms of this agreement are fully and effectively implemented."

The agreement acknowledges the district's on-going efforts to ensure equitable resources and provides opportunities to further enhance the focus on giving all students' equitable access to district resources and supporting student success.

OCR's compliance review, begun in 2010, indicated that the district increased facility equity through a building plan started in 2005 which rebuilt or renovated nearly every district school, developed programs to recruit and retain strong building leadership across all district schools, offered substantially equal access to strong teachers at least in the measures of teacher certification and highly qualified status, and made efforts to provide the same textbooks to students at all of its schools.

However, OCR's review also uncovered a number of potential Title VI compliance concerns regarding equitable access to resources for African American students, including experienced teachers, teachers with master's degrees, library access for K-8 students and distance learning classes for high school students.

The terms of the resolution agreement address the office's concerns identified during its investigation. The agreement provides that the district will:

  • Disseminate and post a non-discrimination notice which informs all members of the school community of their rights and the district's responsibilities under Title VI, and the procedure by which students, parents and employees may report concerns.
  • Obtain OCR approval of revised policies and practices if its program assessments reveal the district's initiatives fail to ensure that equally effective and qualified teachers are equitably distributed to all district schools.
  • Obtain OCR approval of revised policies and practices if its program assessments reveal the district's initiatives fail to continue to ensure that equally effective and qualified building leaders are equitably distributed to all district schools.
  • Ensure that all students at the district's K-8 schools can access their schools' libraries with the same frequency and check out the same number of books.
  • Deliver "live" instruction of distance learning courses, including Advanced Placement and other higher-level courses, across its high schools in a racially equitable manner; ensuring Advance Placement and other higher-level college preparatory courses are taught from the district's racially identifiable African American high schools providing students the opportunity to engage in-person with course instructors.
  • Conduct outreach activities for students and parents to better assess, provide, and monitor its distribution and allocation of resources.

A copy of the OCR letter to the Toledo Public Schools can be found here.

A copy of the agreement can be found here.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin in all programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.

OCR's mission is to ensure equal access to education and promote educational excellence throughout the nation through the vigorous enforcement of civil rights. OCR is responsible for enforcing federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination by educational institutions on the basis of disability, race, color, national origin, sex, and age, as well as the Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act of 2001.