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OCR Letter Addresses Race and School Programming

Insignia of the department of education

Catherine E. Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, has issued a “Dear Colleague” letter in response to a rise in complaints and requests for assistance related to racial inclusivity. The letter clarifies the conditions under which educational institutions receiving federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education can promote racially inclusive environments in line with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and offers hypothetical examples to accompany each clarification. Lhamon underscores that while schools may have autonomy in curriculum and programming choices, federal laws, including those enforced by the Department's Office for Civil Rights (OCR), apply to all programs and activities. Regarding school curricula, the letter explains that OCR doesn't typically intervene in the content of academic materials. However, curricula that create a racially hostile environment have the potential to be investigated. Specific topics addressed in the “Dear Colleague” letter include the legal standards specified under Title VI, school curricula and programming, and other school programming. 

Access the letter here.  

Posted:  1 September, 2023

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