U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights Announces Resolution of Investigation of Discrimination Against Native American Students in Rapid City Area Schools, South Dakota

U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights Announces Resolution of Investigation of Discrimination Against Native American Students in Rapid City Area Schools, South Dakota

May 29, 2024

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) today announced that the Rapid City Area Schools district in South Dakota has entered into a resolution agreement to ensure compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when imposing school discipline and in its implementation of advanced learning programs.

OCR’s investigation raised concerns that similarly situated Native American and white students have been treated differently at the referral and sanctioning stages of the district’s discipline process and with respect to access, referral, identification, and selection for the district’s advanced learning programs and courses.

OCR’s review found evidence indicating that (1) Native American students were being disciplined more frequently and more harshly than similarly situated white students, and (2) that Native American students were discriminated against with respect to access, referral, identification, and selection for the district’s advanced learning programs and courses including honors courses and Advanced Placement courses.

To resolve this investigation, the district commitments include:

  • Examining the root causes of possible discrimination in the district’s discipline and advanced learning programs and implementing corresponding corrective action plans.
  • Employing a discipline equity supervisor with expertise in nondiscriminatory discipline practices to help the district implement the corrective action plan and the agreement.
  • Employing an advanced learning coordinator with expertise in addressing the underrepresentation of Native American students in advanced learning programs and courses to help the district implement the corrective action plan and the agreement.
  • Establishing a standing committee, consisting largely of Native American community members, to inform implementation of the plans.
  • Revising its discipline and truancy policies and procedures, including regarding law enforcement involvement in school discipline.
  • Revising its advanced learning policies and procedures.
  • Regularly analyzing and tracking its student discipline and truancy data, and its advanced learning data to identify and, as needed, address possible areas of discrimination.
  • Providing training to staff on the revised policies and practices.
  • Reporting disaggregated discipline and advanced learning data.

“Through this agreement, Rapid City Area School district has committed to take actions to ensure nondiscrimination for Native American students,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon. “OCR looks forward to working with the Rapid City Area School district to improve equal learning opportunities for all its students.”

The letter to Rapid City Area Schools district and resolution agreement are available on the OCR website.