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TPS, Education Dept. reach deal on racial disparity complaint

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The civil rights office launched a compliance review in 2010. That work found a number of potential compliance concerns, including African-American students’ access to equitable resources.

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Toledo Public Schools has reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights regarding concerns about how the school district treats minority students.

The federal agency announced the resolution, made before its civil rights office completed an investigation into the Toledo district, today.

The result is a five-page “resolution agreement” that outlines steps the district must take to address concerns, including ensuring that qualified teachers are evenly assigned to work in schools throughout the district.

In 2010, parent groups alleged that students at the high schools with largely black enrollment and at feeder schools had been denied the same kind of educational opportunities as those students at schools with fewer minority students. At the time, district officials denied any racial discrimination in how and where college prep courses were offered.

The civil rights office launched a compliance review in 2010. That work found a number of potential compliance concerns related to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to a news release from the education department.

Those concerns included African-American students’ access to equitable resources, such as experienced teachers; library access for elementary and junior high students; and distance learning for high schoolers, the release stated.

A Department of Education spokesman would not immediately comment on the release or answer a reporter’s questions unless they were emailed to him.

A letter sent Wednesday to the district from the civil rights office indicated that the agreement resolves the agency’s investigation of the school system, and the district “expressed an interest in voluntary resolving the case.”

As a part of the agreement, TPS agreed to post nondiscrimination notices, obtain approval from the civil rights office of any revised policies and practices should reviews find that TPS’ efforts to ensure equality fail, make sure that all students in kindergarten-through-eighth-grade schools have access to school libraries and check out books with the same frequency, provide distance -earning courses, including Advanced Placement classes, to high schools in a “racially equitable manner,” and conduct outreach activities to monitor how it distributes resources.

The agreement includes a number of deadlines by which the district must provide reports to the civil rights office. By the end of June this year, and again in 2017 and 2018, the district must give the agency reports confirming and describing its teacher equity programs.

The district must conduct outreach activities to build awareness about the plan among students and parents by June 30.

TPS issued a statement indicating it fully cooperated with the federal review and “devoted an extraordinary amount of time and resources” to respond to it, including 16,670 pages of documents.

The district’s statement said the review found “very few issues of any concern” and said TPS has already voluntarily addressed most of the issues.

“The district is committed to serving all of its students,” the TPS statement read, and is “particularly focused on those schools and students with the greatest needs.”

Contact Vanessa McCray at: vmccray@theblade.com, 419-724-6065, or on Twitter @vanmccray.

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