U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights Reaches Settlement with Victor Valley Union High School District in California

U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights Reaches Settlement with Victor Valley Union High School District in California

August 16, 2022

The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) today announced that the Victor Valley Union High School District in California has entered into a resolution agreement to end race discrimination in implementation of school discipline.

OCR determined that the district discriminated based on race in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI) and its implementing regulations by disciplining Black students more frequently and more harshly than similarly situated white students. OCR identified a pattern of disparate disciplinary actions across types of discipline, schools, and grade levels that imposed greater harms – including in significant lost learning time – on Black students than their white peers.

District discipline practices that disproportionately harmed Black students departed from district policies and state law. Throughout OCR's investigation, administrators, teachers, and student witnesses reported discrimination in multiple areas such as suspensions, expulsions, truancy, and issuance of law enforcement citations. This reported discrimination was consistent with statistical evidence of racial disparities in student discipline as well as with district records reflecting specific instances of harsher discipline of Black students as compared to white students who engaged in similar behavior. OCR also found that the district violated the Title VI regulations by failing to maintain and produce timely, complete, and accurate records regarding school discipline to demonstrate its compliance with Title VI.

The voluntary resolution agreement with the district requires the district to revise its discipline policies and procedures, train its staff regarding them, and develop and implement a corrective action plan to ensure nondiscrimination in student discipline. The agreement also requires the district to offer and provide compensatory education for students harmed by its racially discriminatory discipline practices.

"I applaud the Victor Valley Union High School District's commitment today to rectify the harms its discipline practices caused to Black students and to ensure nondiscrimination in school discipline going forward," said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon.

The district has already begun taking steps to implement the agreement. The district's commitments in the resolution agreement include:

  • Examining the causes of racial disparities in the district's discipline and implementing a corresponding corrective action plan;
  • Employing a director with expertise in nondiscriminatory discipline practices to help the district implement the corrective action plan and the agreement;
  • Establishing a stakeholder equity committee to inform implementation of the plan;   
  • Revising its discipline policies and procedures, including regarding law enforcement involvement in school discipline;
  • Regularly analyzing its student discipline data to identify and, as needed, address possible areas of discrimination;
  • Providing training to staff on the revised discipline policies and practices;
  • Publicly reporting disaggregated discipline data;
  • Conducting school climate surveys to assess perceptions of fairness and safety; and
  • Providing compensatory education to students subjected to discriminatory practices.

The letter to Victor Valley Union High School District is available here and the resolution agreement is available here.