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The Federal Office For Civil Rights Releases Data Highlighting Educational Inequities

Mar 29, 2012

The federal Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has released new, self-reported data from 72,000 schools serving 85 percent of students across the country. The data covers student discipline rates, college and career readiness, rates of referral to law enforcement, retention rates and more, and is the result of the expanded 2009-2010 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC).

While the OCR states that additional analysis is forthcoming from the Department of Education, the OCR has provided some initial findings based upon the data. Among the key findings the OCR has identified are:

  • "African-American students, particularly males, are far more likely to be suspended or expelled from school than their peers.  Black students make up 18% of the students in the CRDC sample, but 35% of the students suspended once, and 39% of the students expelled."
  • "Students learning English (ELL) were 6% of the CRDC high school enrollment, but made up 12% of students retained [held back in the same grade]."
  • "Only 29% of high-minority high schools offered Calculus, compared to 55% of schools with the lowest black and Hispanic enrollment."
  • "Teachers in high-minority schools were paid $2,251 less per year than their colleagues in teaching in low-minority schools in the same district." [1]

During a press conference on March 6, 2012, Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights, Russlynn Ali, explained that enforcement of civil rights laws by the OCR forms an "important piece," but "just a piece" of the solution to the problems identified by the data. Assistant Secretary Ali explained that the OCR has "launched 14 large-scale investigations into disparate discipline rates," and added that the OCR "receive[s] hundreds of complaints every year alleging concerns with the way disciplinary sanctions are implemented..."[2]

The OCR is encouraging school districts and communities to examine the data and use it to understand and change any patterns that the data may reveal. The OCR's recent announcement is in keeping with its recent enforcement activities in Michigan, and is indicative of OCR's ongoing enforcement priorities.

The CRDC data can be found on the Department of Education's web site at: www.ed.gov/ocr . For the OCR's press release and a copy of the conference transcript, click here . The OCR expects to release additional data analysis later this spring, including national projections based upon the data.

For more information about how the CRDC data and the OCR's announcement affects your school or school district, contact your Clark Hill attorney.


[2] Press Conference Call on Civil Rights Data Collection, Part II ,March 6, 2012, pp. 7 and 8, available at :
http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/new-data-us-department-education-highlights-educational-inequities-around-teacher .