U.S. Education Department Announces Resolution of Civil Rights Investigation of Yakima School District (WA) Efforts to Address Harassment of Students

The U.S. Department of Education announced today that its Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has entered into a resolution agreement to resolve a compliance review of the Yakima School District, Washington. The review examined whether the District has taken appropriate action to address harassment of students on the bases of sex, race, color, national origin, and disability. Yakima School District is the 18th largest school district in Washington State with 23 schools and approximately 16,000 students. It is also the largest Latino majority district in Washington State.

After identifying relatively high rates of bullying in the district, OCR’s investigation found the district violated federal civil rights laws by failing to provide nondiscrimination notices or procedures for prompt and equitable resolution of student or employee complaints. In addition, OCR’s investigation revealed flawed district recordkeeping that prevented the district, or OCR, from determining whether a hostile environment exists for students and if so whether the district takes appropriate steps for solution.

Full story of the investigation into the Yakima School District, visit ed.gov

Secretary Duncan’s statement on new legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives concerning No Child Left Behind

“After an economic crisis that forced schools to cut their budgets and hit teachers hard, the last thing we should do right now is cut funding for education. Unfortunately, Chairman Kline’s proposed legislation would allow cuts to school funding. It also fails to give teachers and the schools who need it most the resources they need. And it sends the message that ensuring a quality education for every child isn’t a national responsibility.

“Every child in America, not just some, deserves a fair shot. We have seen tremendous progress in schools across the country thanks to the hard work of educators and education leaders. But I am concerned that this proposal would turn back the clock on that growth because it doesn’t invest in preschool, or support schools and districts in creating innovative new solutions to problems that translate into better outcomes for students.

Full story of new legislation on the No Child Left Behind act, visit ed.gov

Federal Agencies Collaborate to Improve After-School Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Education

The U.S. Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program is leading new interagency partnerships to bring hands-on STEM learning opportunities to high-need students during after-school and out-of-school time. Through this collaboration, the Department will expand an existing pilot program with NASA and build new partnerships with the National Park Service (NPS) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

These partnerships will create opportunities for students to engage in solving real-world STEM challenges with scientists and experts in their field. Overall, the number of participating 21st CCLC sites will increase from approximately 20 last year to over 100. Participating states include: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Full story of agencies to improve after-school education at ed.gov

U.S. Department of Education Releases New Guide on Identifying and Preventing Child Trafficking in Schools

The U.S. Department of Education has released a new guide for educators on ways to identify and help prevent child trafficking in schools. Human Trafficking in America’s Schools is a free guide for school staff that includes information about risk factors, recruitment, and how to identify trafficking; what to do if you suspect trafficking, including sample school protocols and policies; and other resources and potential partnership opportunities. The Department also has partnered with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and President Lincoln’s Cottage, a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, to sponsor a youth campaign focused on raising awareness about and preventing human trafficking..

“It’s hard to imagine that such heinous crimes continue to exist today, right here in America,” Deborah S. Delisle, assistant secretary for the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, said. “Human trafficking robs young people of a life that is filled with hope. The Department stands with its other federal and non-profit partners, such as President Lincoln’s Cottage, in helping these young people return to safe, supportive homes and schools.”

Full story of child trafficking in schools at ed.gov

Harvard Law School Found in Violation of Title IX, Agrees to Remedy Sexual Harassment, including Sexual Assault of Students

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) announced today that it has entered into a resolution agreement with Harvard University and its Law School after finding the Law School in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 for its response to sexual harassment, including sexual assault.

“I am very pleased to bring to close one of our longest-running sexual violence investigations, and I congratulate Harvard Law School for now committing to comply with Title IX and immediately implement steps to provide a safe learning environment for its students,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights. “This agreement is a credit to the strong leadership of Harvard President Drew Faust and Law School Dean Martha Minow, for which I am deeply grateful and from which I know their students will benefit significantly.”

Full story of Harvard Law and sexual assaults at ed.gov

U.S. Department of Education Awards Nearly $570,000 Grant to University of California, Santa Barbara Following a Shooting Last Year

The U.S. Department of Education today announced a nearly $570,000 grant to the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) to assist with ongoing mental health services following a shooting near the campus in May 2014. The immediate services grant, which is being made through the Department’s Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) program and administered by the Office of Safe and Healthy Students, will provide mental health support to the campus.

The Department makes two types of Project SERV awards—Immediate Services and Extended Services. Immediate Services grants provide emergency, short-term assistance to affected school districts or colleges and universities. Extended Services grants assist school districts and colleges and universities in carrying out the long-term recovery efforts that may be needed following a significant, traumatic event.

Full story of grant to University following a shooting at ed.gov

U.S. Education Department Announces Future Ready Regional Summits

The US Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology (OET) in partnership with the Alliance for Excellent Education and with support from the Leading Education by Advancing Digital (LEAD) Commission and a coalition of more than 36 content partners will host a series of Future Ready Regional Summits to help school district leaders improve teaching and student learning outcomes through the effective use of technology.

The summits follow a Connect to the Future convening hosted by President Obama at the White House in November that featured 115 local superintendents from across the country. The summits offer school district leaders expert support to create a digital learning plan that aligns with instructional best practices, is implemented by highly trained teachers, and leads to personalized learning experiences for all students, particularly those from traditionally under-served communities.

Full story on the future ready regional summits at ed.gov

Teamwork + Data = Big Gains at Jones Elementary School

Students at Jones Elementary School in Springdale, Arkansas face many potential obstacles to learning, including poverty, hunger, and trouble speaking and reading English. Eight years ago, only 26 percent of students were reading on grade level. With effective use of data, and real collaboration, the principal and teachers at Jones raised that to 73 percent.

“Poverty isn’t destiny,” says Principal Melissa Fink. Her team is overcoming students’ challenges by believing that every child can succeed at very high levels and creating a culture of excellence.

Full story of teamwork in school at ed.gov

U.S. Departments of Education and Justice Release Joint Guidance to Ensure English Learner Students Have Equal Access to High-Quality Education

The U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Justice (DOJ) today released joint guidance reminding states, school districts and schools of their obligations under federal law to ensure that English learner students have equal access to a high-quality education and the opportunity to achieve their full academic potential.

“Four decades ago, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Lau v. Nichols that all students deserve equal access to a high-quality education regardless of their language background or how well they know English,” said ED Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon. “Today’s guidance not only reminds us of the court’s ruling, but also provides useful information for schools as they work to ensure equity for students and families with limited English proficiency.”

“The diversity of this nation is one of its greatest attributes,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta for the Civil Rights Division at DOJ. “Ensuring English learner students are supported in their education supports all of us. Today’s guidance—40 years after passage of the landmark Equal Educational Opportunities Act—will help schools meet their legal obligations to ensure all students can succeed.”

Full story of equal access to high quality education at ed.gov

Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Enroll Your Child in a High-Quality Early Learning Program

When I first looked into my son’s eyes, I knew: I was lucky.

But I also knew that raising a child that is prepared for emotional, physical, and academic success wouldn’t be easy. Enrolling my son in a high-quality early learning program would promote his learning and development, making his prospects in school and in life that much brighter.

Here are the top ten reasons why you should consider enrolling your child in high-quality early education:

Full story of high quality learning programs at ed.gov