The United States Department of Education recently issued new guidance from its Office for Civil Rights emphasizing the rights of all students to equal access to educational resources “without regard to race, color, or national origin.”

The Dear Colleague letter addresses the standards set in Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and, according to a press release issued by the department, is part of the recently announced Excellent Educators for All initiative.

“Education is the great equalizer—it should be used to level the playing field, not to grow inequality,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who announced the guidance at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s Public Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.

Citing “chronic and widespread racial disparities in access to rigorous courses, academic programs, and extracurricular activities,” the guidance provides information on what Federal law requires regarding the provision of educational resources, how OCR investigates resource disparities and what actions schools can take to meet Title VI obligations.

As detailed in the guidance, Title VI is a Federal civil rights law enforced by OCR that prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin and applies to all recipients of Federal funds, including every state, school district, and public school in the country.

The letter builds upon resource equity guidance issued by the Department in 2001 and is accompanied by a Fact Sheet that provides bulleted check lists of the information included in the Dear Colleague letter.

If your school district has questions about its educational resources or what is contained in the guidance, please contact us.

For more information, contact the Caplan and Earnest School Law team at 303-443-8010.