The Daily Gazette
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New anti-discrimination polices required for Schenectady Schools

The Schenectady City School District will follow new guidelines to ensure students of all races are treated equitably in the special education evaluation and placement processes, following a review by the U.S. Department of Education found that the district had a disproportionate number of black and Latino students enrolled in special education.

To prevent this from happening again the district will have to retain an expert to examine why black and Latino students are over represented in special education, develop and implement an expansion of the universal screen process and ensure that each school implements a systematic team-based means of providing intervention strategies in the regular education classroom.

The full list of requirements are listed in the resolution agreement, which is available below.

The district agreed to these new requirements prior to the Office of Civil Rights making any compliance determinations. The district was credited by the OCR with working collaboratively to address this issue.

In the 2012-2013 school year, black students made up 49 percent of the students who were classified as emotionally disturbed, while black students only accounted for 35 percent of the overall student population. Additionally, Latino students represented 23 percent of students classified as learning disabled, even though only 16 percent of the overall student population was Latino.

Here are some of the additional findings of the Office of Civil Rights:
OCR determined that there was no standardized criteria for referring a student to the school building-level teams responsible for implementing the district’s regular education intervention process. Instead, the approach used by teachers to refer students differed from school to school, and from classroom to classroom.

Teachers referred a larger number and a larger percentage of students to the building-level teams at schools with larger black and/or Latino populations. Additionally, OCR identified elementary school teachers who had racially diverse classrooms, referred only non-white students, and had white students who were similarly situated but were not referred.

OCR determined that some of the building-level teams utilized cognitive evaluation materials during the problem identification process, but that cognitive evaluation materials in Spanish were largely unavailable in the district. Further, at times there was no one available to appropriately evaluate Spanish-speaking students; and the building-level teams rarely called in the Spanish-speaking psychologist to conduct evaluations.

OCR also found that no school routinely monitored the effectiveness of the regular education interventions provided. However, building-level teams at schools with relatively large white student populations were more likely to have follow-up meetings to determine the effectiveness of the interventions provided than at schools with relatively large black and Latino populations.

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Resolution Agreement.doc

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