Frequently Asked Questions
Going through the process of a civil rights compliance on-site visit can be daunting. We can appreciate that a district may have questions prior to the visit. Here are the answers to a few of the most common questions.
1. What is the purpose of this on-site review?
The purpose of this onsite review is to ensure that districts are providing access to education programs in compliance with the requirements of the federal Civil Rights statutes listed below:
- Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, and national origin) 34 CFR Part 100
- Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (prohibiting discrimination based on sex) 34 CFR Part 106
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (prohibiting discrimination based on disability) 34 CFR Part 104
- Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (prohibiting discrimination based on disability) 28 CFR Part 35
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (WDPI) operates a civil rights compliance program under these laws and is mandated by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) to conduct on-site compliance reviews annually of PK-12 LEAs that provide career and technical education programs and receive federal financial assistance.
2. How was my district selected?
As the state education agency responsible for assisting the OCR in the accomplishment of its mission, the WDPI selects LEAs based on a target plan pre-approved by the OCR. This plan is designed to identify school districts with the greatest potential for noncompliance with civil rights laws. Annually, this accounts for at least 2.5% of school districts to receive an on-site review – for Wisconsin, at least nine school districts shall receive an on-site review during each year of the biennium.
3. Why was my district selected?
Based on the 2005 OCR Dear Colleague Letter, each state must submit a Targeting Plan which is comprised of subrecipients (school districts) that offer vocational education programs and that receive federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education. Please note that federal financial assistance is not limited to receipt of Carl Perkins funding. A “vocational education program” is defined as a concentration or sequence of two or more courses in the same discipline.
Then, all school districts with high schools that offer a CTE program are analyzed based on enrollment using CTEERS data. The district overall enrollment is compared with the district CTE enrollment and each discipline enrollment for the following sub-groups:
- Economically disadvantaged
The data analysis identifies under or overrepresentation of these subgroups in each CTE discipline. Under or overrepresentation is defined as more than a 25% difference between the discipline enrollment and district overall enrollment by each of the sub-groups. The districts are then ranked by these percentages. A percentage score is then assigned to each district with a higher percentage indicating greater disparity in sub-group representation.
Once the districts have been ranked and sorted by size, they are vetted on a case-by-case basis using the criteria below; districts may be considered for elimination from the annual universe of schools selected for on-site reviews based on these criteria:
- Districts that are parties to compliance investigations with Region V’s OCR Office, or subjects of pending litigation in state or federal courts because of allegations of discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, handicap, and/or age.
- Districts that are involved in complex cases of Employment/EEO discrimination with Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Equal Rights Division.
- Districts that are parties to a Section 118.13 appeal filed with DPI or that are scheduled for DPI Special Education monitoring.
- Districts that have been visited on-site under the MOA within the last six years.
- Districts that request a postponement for one year due to extraordinary circumstances-e.g. the death of key personnel; natural catastrophe etc.
4. Who makes up the DPI team for the on-site visit?
For each of the nine districts we visit each year, there is a team of three DPI staff. One is considered the team leader and is the district’s point of contact for the duration of the open case (meaning before, during, and after the visit until the district has come into compliance on all their findings/directives).
5. What are the outcomes/benefits of the CRC on-site visit to my district?
These on-site visits are essentially what you make of them. Some districts who have gone through the experience say that the on-site caused them to look at all of the programs in their district including school counseling. Others say that the on-site exposed them to other aspects of their district they maybe would not have noticed from a civil rights perspective. All in all, its purpose is to prevent, identify, and remedy discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, or handicap.
6. How much time should my district dedicate to the collection of exhibits?
The list of exhibits is located here. The answer to this question varies widely and is dependent on the size of the district, the staff available to assemble the exhibits, the accessibility of the exhibits, and how many exhibits are already created and ready for the visit. Please contact your CRC Team Lead should you have questions about this process.
7. What if we do not have all of the exhibits requested?
This happens from time to time. There are quite a few exhibits that are requested for the on-site visit. That said, some of them are duplicative and can meet multiple exhibit criteria, while some exhibits you just won’t have developed or available. That is okay. Our goal is to review what you DO have and document what is missing for you. Our goal is to “paint” an entire civil rights picture for your district to ensure you’re in compliance with the law. We know this is a lot of work up front and we don’t expect that you’re creating documents just for the purpose of the on-site visit.
8. What is the purpose of the staff and student interviews?
The reason for the visit is to ensure compliance of the federal civil rights laws including the Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. We check for compliance through policy and procedure review, a facilities tour, and staff and student interviews. These interviews are general and consist of questions related to knowledge of discrimination, where information regarding discrimination may be found, how courses are selected, access to financial aid, and others. We don’t typically provide the questions ahead of time as our goal is to talk and listen to staff and students in a just in time scenario so we are able to capture the full picture of civil rights in the district. Some districts request that others sit in on the student interviews, and while that is appreciated, the interviewers are DPI licensed teachers/counselors who all have background checks on file. Students and staff are always safe and their time and feedback is held in high regard.
9. Who should be chosen for staff and student interviews during the on-site visit?
The list is as follows:
Director (s) of Special Education, and English Language Learner, and Pupil Services Programs
Director of Instruction
Career and Technical Education/E4E/STW/Coordinator/Local CTE Coordinator
Middle School Counselor
High School Counselor
Two instructors from Career & Technical Education Department (Select no more than 1 staff person per discipline area. Those teaching in a program where there is disproportionate enrollment numbers should be selected for interview, if possible.)
One Instructor from Special Education Department
A student of color who are enrolled in or have completed a career and technical education course or work-based learning program
A female who is enrolled in or has completed a nontraditional course or program (i.e., Technology Education, Agriculture)
A male who is enrolled in or has completed a nontraditional course or program (i.e., Family and Consumer Education, Health Sciences Occupations)
A student from Business and Information Technology or Marketing, Management, and Entrepreneurship Education
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and its implementing regulations (34 C.F.R. Part 104) – Prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability.
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and its implementing regulations (28 C.F.R. Part 35) – Prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability.
The basic requirement states that no qualified person with a disability shall be denied the benefits of, be excluded from participation in, or be otherwise discriminated against under a program or activity of a public entity or a recipient of Federal funds, due to the facilities of the recipient or public entity being inaccessible to or unusable by persons with disabilities.
Therefore, one of the exhibits we request is a detailed floor plan map for each middle and high school building. These plans must be labeled with dates of original construction, parking lots, dates of facility additions, modifications or renovations along with various other identifications that can be found in the exhibit list.