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UNITED STATES REACHES AGREEMENT WITH ARCADIA, CALIFORNIA, SCHOOL DISTRICT TO RESOLVE SEX DISCRIMINATION ALLEGATIONS
Jul 25th, 2013 by

This is a very significant court case regarding the rights of transgender students. See attached official documents.

 

From: USDOJ-Office of Public Affairs (SMO)
Sent: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 4:07 PM
To: USDOJ-Office of Public Affairs (SMO)
Subject: UNITED STATES REACHES AGREEMENT WITH ARCADIA, CALIFORNIA, SCHOOL DISTRICT TO RESOLVE SEX DISCRIMINATION ALLEGATIONS

 

Note:  A copy of the agreement and closure letter are attached in pdf format.

______________________________________________________________________________

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                 CRT

WEDNESDAY, JULY 24, 2013                                                                             (202) 514-2007

WWW.JUSTICE.GOV                                                                                    TTY (866) 544-5309

 

UNITED STATES REACHES AGREEMENT WITH ARCADIA, CALIFORNIA, SCHOOL DISTRICT TO RESOLVE SEX DISCRIMINATION ALLEGATIONS

WASHINGTON – The United States entered into a settlement agreement with the Arcadia Unified School District in Arcadia, Calif., to resolve an investigation into allegations of discrimination against a transgender student based on the student’s sex.  Under the agreement, approved by the district’s school board unanimously last night, the school district will take a number of steps to ensure that the student, whose gender identity is male and who has consistently and uniformly presented as a boy at school and in all other aspects of his life for several years, will be treated like other male students while attending school in the district.

 

The agreement, joined by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, which participated in the investigation, resolves a complaint filed in October 2011.  The complaint alleged that the district had prohibited the student from accessing facilities consistent with his male gender identity, including restrooms and locker rooms at school, as well as sex-specific overnight accommodations at a school-sponsored trip, because he is transgender.  The United States investigated this complaint under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Both Title IX and Title IV prohibit discrimination against students based on sex.

Under the settlement agreement, the district will:

  • work with a consultant to support and assist the district in creating a safe, nondiscriminatory learning environment for students who are transgender or do not conform to gender stereotypes;
  • amend its policies and procedures to reflect that gender-based discrimination, including discrimination based on a student’s gender identity, transgender status, and nonconformity with gender stereotypes, is a form of discrimination based on sex; and
  • train administrators and faculty on preventing gender-based discrimination and creating a nondiscriminatory school environment for transgender students.

 

Additionally, the district will take a number of steps to treat the student like all other male students in the education programs and activities offered by the district.  The district-wide provisions of the agreement will be in place until the end of the 2015-2016 school year.  The student-specific provisions of the agreement will be in place as long as the student is enrolled in the district.

 

“All students, including transgender students, have the right to attend school free from discrimination based on their sex,” said Jocelyn Samuels, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.  “We commend the district for taking affirmative steps to ensure that this student and his peers can continue to learn and thrive in a safe and nondiscriminatory environment.”

“Our commitment to civil rights enforcement runs deep and nowhere is that commitment more meaningful than in our schools,” said André Birotte, Jr., United States Attorney for the Central District of California. “This agreement helps ensure continued advancement towards equal rights under the law for all students.”

In recent years, the Justice Department and the Department of Education resolved a number of cases involving gender-based harassment in public schools.  In 2012, the departments entered into a consent decree addressing harassment against students who do not conform to gender stereotypes in the Anoka-Hennepin School District, Minn.  In 2011, the departments entered into an agreement with the Tehachapi Unified School District, Calif., to resolve a similar complaint of harassment against a gay student who did not conform to gender stereotypes.

Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 each prohibit harassment based on sex.  The enforcement of Title IV and Title IX are top priorities of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt.

13-838

 

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Fitzgerald v. Barnstable Revisited
Feb 14th, 2013 by

From ATIXA – http://atixa.org/

ATIXA is the Association of Title IX Administrators [in higher education]. This is from their newsletter.

Start quote>>>

The last week in January was the four-year anniversary of a “gamechanging” Title IX decision by the United States Supreme Court: Fitzgerald v. Barnstable School Committee (129 S.Ct. 788 (2009)).  The Court made a key determination that has the potential to personally impact administrators nationwide.

Without getting into the legal nitty-gritty, the Court’s decision makes it possible to use a long-standing civil rights statute, 42 US § 1983, to hold administrators personally liable for their role in an incident of alleged sexual harassment/discrimination (including retaliation, deliberately indifferent response etc.). In other words, the Court held that Title IX is not the exclusive mechanism for addressing gender discrimination, nor a substitute for a §1983 action pertaining to sex discrimination cases.  Complainants could use both Title IX and 1983 concurrently.

What this means is that administrators at state institutions [public schools] and those acting under the color of state law, can be personally sued and responsible for paying damages, injunctive relief and even attorney’s fees. Know that if you are acting within the scope of your employment and following your institution’s policies and procedures, it is very likely your institution will help defend you, should you be named in a §1983 lawsuit.

We do not share this tip to frighten, but to inform and to remind each of us of the importance of following fair, equitable and prompt procedures.

End quote>>>
What this means in practice includes the following:

 

    1. All certified & non-certified staff should have a training in Title IX and all other state & federal civil rights laws, with an annual refresher. Do not forget Title VI (race, color, national origin) and PA 11-55 (gender identity).

  • All students should be educated in laws and school policies on discrimination and school conduct – particularly Title IX.
  • Policies as well as grievance procedures must be in the student and employee handbook and on your website.
  • Parents/Guardians should be made aware of policies and procedures.
  • School Climate Coordinators and Specialists, in particular,  should be trained in state/federal civil rights laws and have an understanding of what conduct constitutes criminal acts – and they should be trained on how to conduct investigations. Please note that a bill has been presented before the CT state legislature on this topic.
    HB 6274… AN ACT CONCERNING TRAINING FOR THE INVESTIGATION AND MANAGEMENT OF CLAIMS OF SCHOOL BULLYING. To provide training for those persons responsible for investigating and managing claims of school bullying.

 

We are running 4 workshops on Conducting Investigations & Report Writing – March 25, 26, April 1 or April 2.

http://www.aces.org/teachers/workshops/  – please share widely.

 

A reminder to familiarize yourself thoroughly with this website – the PowerPoint for Title IX and Investigation training is on the site.

Bullying and Harassment – http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/bullyingandharassment

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Immigrant Students’ Rights to Attend Public Schools
Aug 30th, 2011 by

Immigrant Students’ Rights to Attend Public Schools
 
School Opening Alert
As a new school year begins, this alert is a reminder that public schools, by law, must serve all children.

The education of undocumented students is guaranteed by the Plyler vs. Doe decision and certain procedures must be followed when registering immigrant children in school to avoid violation of their civil rights.

The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education published in May a letter advising school officials that activities that deny or discourage students to attend school are unlawful. The letter begins, “Under federal law, state and local educational agencies are required to provide all children with equal access to public education at the elementary and secondary level.”

In Plyler vs. Doe, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that children of undocumented workers have the same right to attend public primary and secondary schools as do U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Like other students, children of undocumented workers in fact are required under state laws to attend school until they reach a mandated age.

The Supreme Court arrived at this decision because such practices that deny or discourage immigrant children and families from public schooling:
Victimize innocent children – Children of undocumented workers do not choose the conditions under which they enter the United States. They should not be punished for circumstances they do not control. Children have the right to learn and be useful members of society.

Are counterproductive for the country – Denying children access to education does not eliminate illegal immigration. Instead, it ensures the creation of an underclass. Without public education for children, illiteracy rates will increase and opportunities for workforce and community participation will decrease. Recent research has proven that for every $1 spent on the education of children, at least $9 is returned.

Waste valuable time while losing sight of principal goals of public education – Rather than teaching students, school officials would spend their time asking our millions of school children about their citizenship status. States would be forced to spend millions of dollars to do the work of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

Promote misinformation – Incorrect assumptions and inappropriate figures have been used to blame immigrants and their children for economic problems.
Encourage racism and discrimination – In turbulent, financially troubled times, immigration often becomes a focalpoint of public discourse. Many consider a preoccupation with the immigration status of children of undocumented workers to be a form of discrimination and racism.
As a result of the Plyler ruling, public schools may not:
deny admission to a student during initial enrollment or at any other time on the basis of undocumented status;
treat a student differently to determine residency;
engage in any practices to “chill” the right of access to school;
require students or parents to disclose or document their immigration status;
make inquiries of students or parents that may expose their undocumented status; or
require social security numbers from all students, as this may expose undocumented status.

Students without a social security number should be assigned a number generated by the school. Adults without social security numbers who are applying for a free lunch and/or breakfast program for a student need only state on the application that they do not have a social security number.
The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act prohibits schools from providing any outside agency – including the ICE agency – with any information from a child’s school file that would expose the student’s undocumented status. The only exception is if an agency gets a court order (subpoena) that parents can then challenge. Schools should note that even requesting such permission from parents might act to “chill” a student’s Plyler rights.
Finally, school personnel – especially building principals and those involved with student intake activities – should be aware that they have no legal obligation to enforce U.S. immigration laws.
At IDRA, we are working to strengthen schools to work for all children, families and communities. Help us make this goal a reality for every child; we simply cannot afford the alternatives. Denying children of undocumented workers access to an education is unconstitutional and against the law.

Feel free to copy this alert and share it. You can also visit IDRA’s website for a printable flier in English and Spanish as well as a copy of the letter from the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education.
For assistance in ensuring that your programs comply with federal law, you can contact the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Educational Opportunities Section, at 877-292-3804 or education@usdoj.gov, or the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at 800-421-3481 or ocr@ed.gov. You may also contact the OCR enforcement office that serves your area.

For more information or to report incidents of school exclusion or delay, call:
META (Nationwide) 617- 628-2226
MALDEF (Los Angeles) 213-629-2512
MALDEF (San Antonio) 210-224-5476
NY Immigration Hotline (Nationwide) 212-419-3737
MALDEF (Chicago) 312-427-0701
MALDEF (Washington, D.C.) 202-293-2828
Printable versions of this alert are online in English and Spanish.
Derechos de los estudiantes inmigrantes a asistir a escuelas públicas
 
Llamada Urgente durante el Comienzo del Curso Escolar
La educación de los estudiantes indocumentados está garantizada por la decisión Doe vs. Plyler o que ciertos procedimientos se deben seguir al inscribir a los niños inmigrantes en la escuela para evitar la violación de sus derechos civiles. No se les puede negar el derecho a una educación de calidad.
El Departamento de Justicia de EE.UU. y el Departamento de Educación de EE.UU., ha publicado y distribuido una carta aconsejando a administradores de escuela que el negar o disuadir a estudiantes indocumentado o de padres indocumentados es ilegal y contra este dictamen legal. La carta comienza así: “Bajo la ley federal, agencias educativas tanto estatales como locales están obligadas a proporcionar a todo niño la igualdad de acceso a la educación pública a nivel de primaria y secundaria.”
El Tribunal Supremo de los Estados Unidos, en el caso Doe vs. Plyler, dictaminó que los niños de padres indocumentados tienen el mismo derecho de asistir a las escuelas públicas primarias y secundarias que tienen sus contrapartes de nacionalidad estadounidense. Al igual que los demás niños, los estudiantes indocumentados están obligados a asistir a la escuela hasta que llegan a la edad exigida por la ley.
El Tribunal Supremo llegó a esta decisión debido a prácticas que niegan o desalentan a niños inmigrantes indocumentados y sus familias de la escuela pública:
Son niños indefensos. Los niños de los trabajadores indocumentados son indefensos y esperan la protección de una ley justa y compasiva. Ellos no eligieron venir a este país o las condiciones en que están en los Estados Unidos. No es justo castigar a un niño indefenso; es mas, tiene derecho a aprender y ser útil a la sociedad.
Es contraproducente para el país. El negar a estos niños el acceso a la educación no elimina la inmigración ilegal, sino que crea una subclase económica en el país. Aumentarán las tasas de analfabetismo y se reducirá la participación de éstos en las comunidades donde viven. Según las investigaciones, cada dólar que se invierte en la educación de estos niños tiene un rendimiento de por lo menos de nueve dólares en beneficios para el país.
Es tiempo valioso que se pierde cuando perdemos la meta principal de la escuela. Se pierde mucho tiempo, que se podría emplear mejor en la educación de estos niños, cuando los educadores se enfocan en determinar la ciudadanía de cada estudiante. Esa no es la responsabilidad del educador. El educador conciente de su responsabilidad no tiene el tiempo ni debe permitir que se le agregue esta responsabilidad.
Cuidado con la información incorrecta. La distribución de suposiciones y cifras incorrectas ha causado mucho daño y creado un ambiente de incertidumbre y fricción entre grupos de ciudadanos.
¿Es acaso un síntoma de racismo y discriminación? Estamos viviendo en una época de mucha discordia y dificultades económicas en este país. Siempre que esto sucede renace esta preocupación por la inmigración que muchos consideran como racismo y discriminación.
A raíz de la decisión Plyler, las escuelas públicas no pueden:
negarle la matrícula a un estudiante basándose en su situación legal y/o inmigratoria, ya sea a principios del curso o durante el año escolar;
tratar a un estudiante en forma desigual verificando la situación de residencia de ciertos estudiantes;
promover prácticas cuyo resultado es negar el derecho de acceso a los servicios escolares;
requerir que un estudiante o sus padres revelen o documenten su situación inmigratoria;
hacer interrogatorios a estudiantes o padres que pudieran revelar su situación de indocumentados;
exigir que un estudiante obtenga un número de seguro social como requisito de admisión a la escuela.
La escuela debe de asignar un número de identificación a los estudiantes que no tienen tarjeta de seguro social. Los adultos sin números de seguro social que necesitan almuerzo y/o desayuno gratis sólo tienen que indicar que no tienen seguro social. Allí debe terminar.
Además, el Acta Familiar de Derechos y Privacidad Escolar (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act) le prohibe a las escuelas proveer a cualquier agencia externa – incluyendo la agencia ICE – cualquier información del archivo personal de un estudiante que pudiera revelar su estado legal. La única excepción es cuando una agencia obtiene una orden judicial – conocida como una citación o subpoena – que los padres pueden apelar o retar. El mero hecho de pedirle tal permiso a los padres podría violar los derechos reconocidos por Doe vs. Plyler.
Finalmente, el personal escolar – especialmente los directores y otros administradores o personal docente – deben saber que no están bajo ninguna obligación legal de poner en vigor las leyes de inmigración de los EEUU.
En IDRA, nos unimos a educadores para fortalecer a las escuelas a proveer la igualdad de oportunidad y practicar equitativamente un programa de instrucción para todos los niños, familias y comunidades. Ayúdenos a hacer de este objetivo una realidad para todos los niños. Negando a los niños el acceso a la educación es inconstitucional y en contra de la ley.
Siéntase libre de copiar esta alerta y compartirla. También puede visitar el sitio web de IDRA para imprimir un folleto en inglés y en español, así como una copia de la carta del Departamento de Justicia de EE.UU. y el Departamento de Educación de EE.UU.
Para más asistencia para garantizar que sus programas cumplen con la ley federal, usted puede comunicarse con el Departamento de Justicia, División de Derechos Civiles, Sección de Oportunidades Educativas, en el 877-292-3804 o education@usdoj.gov, o la Oficina del Departamento de Educación para los Derechos Civiles (OCR) en el 800-421-3481 o ocr@ed.gov. También puede comunicarse con la oficina de aplicación de OCR que sirve a su área.
Para más información, o para denunciar incidentes de exclusión escolar o retraso en la admisión a clases, favor de llamar a:
META (Nationwide) 617- 628-2226
MALDEF (Los Angeles) 213-629-2512
MALDEF (San Antonio) 210-224-5476
NY Immigration Hotline (Nationwide) 212-419-3737
MALDEF (Chicago) 312-427-0701
MALDEF (Washington, D.C.) 202-293-2828

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West Bend School Board must recognize Gay-Straight Alliance
Aug 7th, 2011 by

West Bend School Board must recognize Gay-Straight Alliance

By Kaellen Hessel of the Journal Sentinel

Aug. 3, 2011 |(9) Comments

 

A federal judge decided that the West Bend School Board must recognize the Gay-Straight Alliance as an official school-sponsored club at the district’s high schools.

The decree, announced last week, also prohibits any current or future board members from retaliating against the club or anyone affiliated with it while under the court’s supervision for the next seven years. If the school board violates the terms of the agreement while under court supervision, the GSA can ask the same federal judge to enforce its ruling without having to file litigation again, Waring Fincke, a lawyer for the club, said Tuesday.

“The judge’s order is as clear as a bunch of lawyers can make it,” he said.

If a dispute does occur during the seven-year period, the student group and the school board must try to resolve it before entering into litigation, said Mary Hubacher, a lawyer representing the school board.

The dispute began when the school board denied the student group official status — even though the club had been meeting unofficially for years —  at its May 9 meeting. Official recognition allows a club to be in the yearbook, raise money on campus, post information in the schools and use the schools’ equipment and resources.

The lawsuit filed against the board stated the board’s action was in violation of the Equal Access Act and the First Amendment. After the lawsuit was filed, the board voted to rescind its previous vote and recognize the group if the lawsuit was dropped.

“In litigation the losers don’t get to dictate the terms of the lawsuit,” Fincke said.

In a news release, Fincke wrote it was necessary for the student group to “have long-term protection” due to the views of some board members and religious community leaders.

Hubacher pointed out that the school board approved the terms before entering into the agreement, and that the decree contained no admission of wrongdoing.

 
 
 
 
 
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J.L. v. Mohawk Central School District
Jul 5th, 2011 by

I’ve attached a link to a Department of Justice  speech about its involvement in eliminating gender identity discrimination.  On page 3, it discusses the NY case in which it intervened.  http://www.justice.gov/crt/speeches/nosanchuk_texas_speech.pdf

 

From Page 3 –
Using our existing authority, and for the first time in nearly a decade, we recently sought to intervene in the case of an openly gay teenager from upstate New York who was harassed because he fails to conform to gender stereotypes in both behavior and appearance. The school district knew about the harassment but didn’t stop it.

 

This failure to act to ensure that that this gay teen could go to school without fear of being beaten up is both unacceptable and unlawful. The Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibit bullying or harassment of students based on their gender or on gender stereotypes. Every student has a constitutional right to go to school without fearing he or she will be scapegoated and harassed by their peers. In this case, J.L. v. Mohawk County, the New York Civil Liberties Union brought a lawsuit, and we used our authority under Title IX to intervene and now are part of a settlement under which the school district will adopt policies and incorporate training provided by the Anti-Defamation League that ensure that the next time a gay or transgender teen is bullied, the school district puts a stop to it.

 

 

A settlement was reached in this case. http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2010/March/10-crt-340.html

 

Department of Justice

Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Justice Department Settles with New York School District to Ensure Students Have Equal Opportunities

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today that it has reached an out-of-court settlement in the matter of J.L. v. Mohawk Central School District, a lawsuit which the United States sought to join to address alleged violations of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, both of which prohibit discrimination based on sex, including discrimination based on gender stereotypes.

 

On Jan. 14, 2010, in the Northern District of New York, the United States sought to join a lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a student, J.L., who was the alleged victim of severe and pervasive student-on-student harassment based on sex.  According to the United States’ motion, J.L. failed to conform to gender stereotypes in both behavior and appearance.   He exhibited feminine mannerisms, dyed his hair, wore makeup and nail polish, and maintained predominantly female friendships.  The United States alleged that the harassment against J.L. escalated from derogatory name-calling to physical threats and violence.  

 

The United States further alleged that the Mohawk Central School District had knowledge of the harassment, that the school district was deliberately indifferent in its failure to take timely, corrective action, and that the deliberate indifference restricted J.L.’s ability to fully enjoy the educational opportunities and benefits of his school.   The district denied these allegations.

 

The settlement among the United States, private plaintiff and the district was approved yesterday by the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of New York and requires the Mohawk Central School District to, among other things:  (1) retain an expert consultant in the area of harassment and discrimination based on sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation to review the District’s policies and procedures; (2) develop and implement a comprehensive plan for disseminating the District’s harassment and discrimination policies and procedures; (3) retain an expert consultant to conduct annual training for faculty and staff, and students as deemed appropriate by the expert, on discrimination and harassment based on sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation; (4) maintain records of investigations and responses to allegations of harassment for five years; and (5) provide annual compliance reports to the United States and private plaintiffs.   As part of this settlement, $50,000 will be paid to J.L. and $25,000 in attorneys’ fees will be paid to the New York Civil Liberties Foundation.  

 

“All students have the right to go to school without fearing harassment based on sex, including stereotypes about appropriate gender behavior,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.   “Such conduct has no place in our schools, and the Justice Department looks forward to working with the District and the NYCLU to ensure that all students enjoy educational opportunities without discrimination or harassment.” 

 

The enforcement of the Equal Protection Clause and Title IX in school districts is a top priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.   Additional information about the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is available on its Web site at http://www.justice.gov/crt.

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