Overview of a Civil Rights Compliance Review
SED staff conduct onsite compliance reviews annually. Compliance reviews may also be conducted independently on the basis of need or as a result of civil rights complaints. Reviews are conducted at schools that offer vocational (career and technical education) programs and receive federal financial assistance. The reviews are intended to ensure that no person shall, on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, handicap, or age, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to unlawful discrimination under any vocational education program or study.
Compliance reviews consist of an examination and analysis of data and documents supplied by the district or BOCES, interviews with administrators, teachers, counselors and students, and observations/tours of the facilities. Documents are usually provided to SED prior to the on-site visit for review. The on-site visit is usually two days, depending on the number of facilities to be reviewed. The site visit includes interviews, the facility review, additional documents and data, as needed, and meetings with administrators. The documented findings, a letter of findings (LOF) are usually sent to the district or BOCES within 30 days after the on-site visit. The response to the findings, a voluntary compliance plan (VCP) should be prepared and received at SED within 90 days of the receipt of the letter of findings (LOF).
Findings of non-compliance with federal civil rights laws and/or regulations are identified as part of the letter of findings, or LOF, to the district/BOCES. District/BOCES officials, with assistance as needed from the SED staff, must prepare an approved compliance plan (VCP) to correct any findings. SED staff will also provide technical assistance to the district/BOCES to implement the plan and will monitor the district/BOCES until all plan activities have been completed.
All findings should be brought into compliance within two years of the site visit.
Elements of an on-site Civil Rights Compliance Review
To assist in planning for the on-site review, the components of the civil rights compliance review are itemized below:
- Call SED (518-486-1547) and ask to speak with the person who will be reviewing the school/BOCES. Choose a mutually-agreeable date with the SED reviewer for the on-site visit. The on-site visit usually lasts two days, but it is dependent upon the number of facilities to be toured.
- Paperwork: to be sent to SED prior to the on-site visit.
There are many documents to be prepared and/or gathered prior
to the on-site visit. The documents need to be received at
least three weeks prior to the scheduled visit.
Documents to be compiled and sent to SED are itemized on the “Document Checklists.” There is one checklist for the CTE director or administrator, and one for the facility director/manager.
- On-site visit
Schedule a mutually convenient date for the on-site SED reviewer to visit the school/BOCES. During the on-site visit there are several components:
- Initial meeting with the
superintendent to review purpose of and procedures for
this review. The CTE director may be at this meeting at
the discretion of the superintendent. See the On-Site Review
Checklist for an overview of the requirements to be assessed
during the visit.
Overview of a Civil Rights Compliance Review
- Interviews with
the following individual(s) or group:
- CTE Director/administrators
- CTE students – four-to-six, as a group
- CTE teachers - four-to-five, as a group
- Director of guidance/counseling and 1-2 high school and middle school counselors as a group
- Special Education Director
- Personnel or Human Resources Director
A secure room is usually identified by the school/BOCES for the reviewer to use for interviews and to review documentation during the length of the visit. Each interview usually lasts approximately 45 minutes; we appreciate 15 minutes between interviews to compile notes and prepare for the next interview.
The student group should be a diverse representation of the student body – male, female, ethnic, handicapped, high-achieving, low-achieving, etc. They should be from various CTE areas, e.g., trade areas, technology, business/marketing, health occupations, etc.
For confidentiality reasons, the interviews need to be private and conducted in a private room, e.g., a small conference room, with only the individual(s) being interviewed, and the interviewer, present.
The interviews are informal, and the order of the individual or groups being interviewed can be changed to accommodate the schedules of the students/teachers and/or administrators.
- Facility tour: a tour of the accessible route through each building that houses CTE classes, labs, events, administration, and parking facilities. The tour should encompass areas utilized by CTE students, teachers and administrators including classrooms, libraries, laboratories, etc. See the Facility Checklist and Architectural Accessibility Standards for Buildings.
- Document review: Review of additional documents that need to be reviewed based upon the review of the pre-on-site visit documents reviewed, interviews, and the facility review.
- Exit Interview: meeting with the superintendent to review findings and recommendations found during the scope of this civil rights compliance review and “next steps.” The CTE director may be at this meeting at the discretion of the superintendent.
- Initial meeting with the superintendent to review purpose of and procedures for this review. The CTE director may be at this meeting at the discretion of the superintendent. See the On-Site Review Checklist for an overview of the requirements to be assessed during the visit.