Office of Civil Rights Guidance for Schools

Last Updated: January 29, 2014

This article appeared in the October 2014 Rural Policy Matters.

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Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. Earlier this month, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), a division of the U.S. Department of Education, issued guidance explaining what the law requires in terms of resource allocation and disparities; what schools, districts, and States can do to meet their obligations, and how OCR investigates compliance.

The guidance addresses a variety of resource issues that affect opportunity to learn, including qualified teachers and administrators, facilities, technology, and a range of curricular resources including Advanced Placement and college-prep classes and extracurricular activities. The guidance could signal intent by OCR to hold states and districts more accountable to the law.

The Rural School and Community Trust has played an instrumental role in the Department of Education's effort to ensure that all students have equal access to educational resources. Between 2011 and 2013, the Rural Trust's Executive Director, Dr. Doris Terry Williams served on the Department of Education's Equity and Excellence Commission.

The Commission examined the disparities in meaningful educational opportunities that give rise to the achievement gap, with a focus on systems of finance. In the report, For Each and Every Child, the Commission recommended ways in which federal policies could address such disparities. It also recommended ways to restructure school finance systems to achieve equity in the distribution of educational resources and further student achievement and attainment.

Read more:

OCR Fact Sheet:

Dear Colleague letter:

For Each and Every Child:

Read more from the October 2014
Rural Policy Matters.