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Saturday, May 10, 2014

DC Charters Did Not Discriminate, Says Education Department

The U.S. Department of Education told DC Public Charter School Board (PCSB) Friday that BASIS DC and Capital City PCS did not discriminate against students based on their immigration status.

“[Office of Civil Rights] made no finding that these schools had been intentionally attempting to discourage any group of students from enrolling,” according to a statement from the department.

The department originally named the two schools on a list of 17 nationwide as having discriminatory practices against undocumented students.

The department’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) had been investigating complaints at BASIS DC and Capital City PCS related to how English Language Learners are identified, among other issues. The complaints were settled with the department, but in the course of the inquiry, OCR reviewed student enrollment forms used by the schools that, in the department’s opinion, might possibly discourage undocumented students from enrolling. In a settlement, the schools agreed to stop using the forms.  These forms had been provided by state education agencies, leading the schools to believe that they were appropriate.

As a result of the complaints, OCR expanded the scope of the settlement agreement to include language asking Capital City PCS and Basis PCS not to discriminate in their admissions policies against undocumented students (even though there was never an allegation that they ever had discriminated against a student based on this). This language seems to be the source of why the schools were mistakenly placed on the list.

An article that appeared late Friday on the Washington Post website provides more detail.

As DC’s charter authorizer, PCSB works to ensure that through its oversight, DC charter schools are open to all students.   Overall DC charter schools serve virtually the same percentage of Latino and English Language Learners as the state average.  And Latino and ELL students at DC charter schools perform better on English and Math statewide assessments.

ENROLLMENT

Percent of Students Enrolled

At Charter Schools

District-Wide

Latino Students

15%

16%

English Language Learners

11%

9%

 

PERFORMANCE

Percent Proficient on the 2013 DC-CAS

At Charter Schools

(English Language / Math)

District-Wide

(English Language / Math)

Latino Students

55% / 61%

52% / 59%

English Language Learners

45% / 54%

40% / 50%

 


Posted by: Scott Pearson at 5:25 p.m.
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