Virginia's Hampton City Schools, U.S. Education Department Settle Case of Retaliation Against Mom Who Advocated for Daughter

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Virginia's Hampton City Schools, U.S. Education Department Settle Case of Retaliation Against Mom Who Advocated for Daughter

July 1, 2016

The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced today that it has entered into a resolution agreement with the Hampton, Virginia, City Schools after finding the division in violation of the civil rights laws enforced by OCR that prohibit retaliation for opposing discriminatory practices or for participating in OCR's complaint resolution process.

OCR found the division retaliated against a parent for advocating on behalf of her daughter, who is an elementary school student enrolled in and receiving special education services from a division school. The retaliation occurred when the division effectively terminated the employment of the parent in the division. Two federal civil rights laws protect parents from those discriminatory practices: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

The division entered into a resolution agreement after OCR recently notified it that failure to remedy the violation would result in the initiation of an enforcement action.

"I am grateful that the division has now committed to put its retaliation behind it and move forward supportive of all students' and parents' rights to advocate for their civil rights," said Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights. "Safeguarding parents' ability to raise concerns about their children's education without fear of retaliation is a core component of civil rights compliance in schools."

Under the agreement, the division agreed to take actions to remedy the violation, including the following:

  • Amend the division's policies to prohibit retaliation against individuals who have engaged in activities protected by federal law and identify the procedure for filing a complaint alleging retaliation.
  • Disseminate a memorandum to all division administrators that provides information on unlawful retaliation.
  • Post a notice stating that the division prohibits retaliation against individuals who have engaged in activities protected by federal law. The notice will also reference the procedure for filing a complaint alleging retaliation and state that the division was found by OCR to have engaged in unlawful retaliation.
  • Provide training to administrators on retaliation.
  • Compensate, as appropriate, the Complainant for the expenses that she incurred as a result of the division's retaliation during the 2014-2015 and 2015-16 school years.

A copy of the resolution letter can be found here, and the resolution agreement is posted here.

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.