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GEPA Section 427: Ensuring Equitable Access to ESSER Funds for All Students

Compliance with General Education Provisions Act Section 427

The General Education Provisions Act (GEPA) Section 427 highlights six types of barriers that can impede equitable access or participation in federally funded programs: gender, race, national origin, color, disability, or age. As part of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) grant application, LEAs need to include a succinct description of steps to be taken to overcome the barriers that are applicable to their circumstances. One description is required for each program type tied to budget expenses (not for each budget item).

Program types for ESSER funds:

  • Preparedness and response to COVID-19
  • Outreach and services to special populations
  • Addressing long-term closures
  • Education technology
  • Mental health supports
  • Addressing afterschool and summer activities
  • Continued staff employment

Guiding questions for LEAs to consider:

  • What barriers exist in your community that may prevent students, teachers, and other program beneficiaries from access or participation in the ESSER-funded projects or activities listed in the application?
  • What steps are being taken to address or overcome these barriers?

Rubric

DPI staff will use this rubric to determine whether or not an application for ESSER funds meets the Section 427 requirement under GEPA:

Meets Requirement Does Not Meet Requirement

The LEA provides a specific and succinct description for each program type in the application of how it will comply with Section 427, connected to the related topics/budget items listed. The description ensures equitable access to, and participation in the ESSER-funded activities for students, teachers, and other program beneficiaries with special needs.

The LEA provides a description of the ESSER-funded activity, but the description does not include how it will ensure equitable access to, and participation in the ESSER-funded activity for students, teachers, and other program beneficiaries with special needs.

Examples of Responses that Meet the Section 427 Requirement:

Program Type: Preparedness and Response to COVID-19

  • "Cleaning the schools and installing hand sanitizing stations in every classroom will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 among all students, staff, and families. We will ensure that no student or teacher will be denied participation based on gender, race, national origin, disability or age."

Program Type: Outreach and Services to Special Populations

  • "The district will use ESSER funds to contract with COMPANY X to provide web-based translation/interpretation services to support virtual instruction for families who are English Learners."
  • "ESSER funds will be used to invest in infrastructure, communication, and staffing required to hold virtual or phone-based individualized education program (IEP) team meetings for students with disabilities and virtual and/or online learning experiences in all family and staff member homes."
  • "The district will use ESSER funds to provide web-based translation/interpretation services to support virtual instruction for families who are English Learners."

Program Type: Addressing Long-term Closures

  • "Our district will use ESSER grant funds for professional development. Because a significant portion of our students are at or below the poverty level, we will provide funds for teacher training that will assist staff in understanding poverty and how to adapt teaching strategies so that low-income students and their parents will be more engaged in their virtual learning. We will ensure that no student or teacher will be denied participation based on gender, race, national origin, disability or age."

Program Type: Education Technology

  • "To improve the engagement of students of color in a virtual setting, ESSER funds will be used to update existing or create new web-based curriculum through an equity lens."
  • "To ensure students with disabilities receive FAPE (free appropriate public education), funds will be used to purchase assistive technology including alternative augmentative communication (ACC) devices to support communication and linked to learning strategies at home."
  • "Our district will use ESSER grant funds to purchase web-based curriculum to provide virtual instruction as part of our schoolwide response to COVID-19. Because a significant portion of our students are from families where Spanish is the primary language spoken at home, we will provide user instructions for the curriculum both in Spanish and in English."

  • "Our district will use ESSER grant funds to purchase hotspots and internet access. Because a significant portion of our students are at or below the poverty level, we will provide funds to assist families who cannot afford internet access in their homes."

  • "Funds will be used for the salary for our district technology coordinator who provides tech support for our teaching staff and students. This includes servers, networking, personal computers, tablets, software and other technology for all students, including who may not have access to this type of equipment at home. We are committed to ensuring all students and teachers have all technology available to them; regardless of gender, race, national origin, disability or age."

Program Type: Mental Health Supports

  • "The social worker who’s salary is covered by ESSER funds will develop an online support group for students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender to ensure their safety and well being during the pandemic."
  • "Our district will use ESSER grant funds toward our social worker efforts to support our low-income families/special needs/ESL population. Time is allocated for her to work with these families to ensure communication between home and school with constant conversations through web-based visits,, phone calls, emails etc. addressing safety issues, supporting living conditions, attendance, interpreters, meeting IEP requirements, etc. We will ensure that no student or teacher will be denied participation based on gender, race, national origin, disability or age."