I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.
Sunday, April 6, 2014
What is the OCR?
I was fortunate during this weekend's NSBA Conference in New Orleans to be able to attend a lecture on the history of the Federal Office of Civil Rights (OCR) The seminar was presented by several attorneys from the Washington DC Law Firm Hogan Lovells. The chief presenter was Mr. John Borkowski, a pratner with Hogan Lovells.
I take a keen interest in this session because . We have been working with OCR in Escambia County for a number of years to address concerns about allegations that the way we discipline minority students in our district is discriminatory--which is not true. We have also recently been accused of being a party to litigation over discipline issues, which is also untrue.
The presentation at NSBA gave a brief history of the OCR, an entity created by the passage of the civil rights act of 1964. OCR investigates discrimination complaints lodged against recipients of federal program funds. (including K12 systems and colleges and universities) Such complaints are often based upon claims of discrimination due to someone's race, gender, gender identity, and/or disability.
OCR is housed in the Federal Department of Education. OCR is mandated by statute to review ALL complaints that it receives ( but not necessarily conduct an investigation of all complaints )
OCR will typically work with districts and universities to ameliorate complaints via voluntarily acceptable terms; However, OCR does have some remedies which it infrequently applies to districts that it feels violate anti-discrimination statutes and who do not accept changes to their operations. Such remedies can include the withholding of federal program funds or referral to the Federal Department of Justice for prosecution.
The presenters gave the following tips for school board members to take home with, found on the slide in the picture below: