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General Education Provisions Act (GEPA)

Requirement

Section 427 of the United States Department of Education's General Education Provisions Act (GEPA) requires each applicant for funds (other than an individual  person) to include in its application a description of the steps the applicant proposes to take in order to ensure equitable access to, and participation in, its Federally-assisted programs for students, teachers, and other program beneficiaries with special needs.  
 
Local education agencies (LEAs) or other eligible applicants that apply for Federal funding through the consolidated application must provide this description in their application.  CDE is responsible for ensuring that the LEA or other local entity has submitted a sufficient section 427 statement. 

Developing a Response

GEPA allows applicants discretion in developing and describing the activities that are occurring to meet this requirement.  The statute highlights six types of barriers that may impede equitable access or participation: gender, race, national origin, color, disability, or age. Based on local circumstances, LEAs should determine whether these or other barriers may prevent your students, teachers, etc. from such access or participation in the Federally-funded project or activity. 

Possible Barriers to Equitable Access or Participation

  • Gender
  • Race
  • National Origin
  • Color
  • Disability
  • Age  

Format

The description(s) provided in the Consolidated Application need not be lengthy.  Applicants may provide a clear and succinct description of how the LEA will address the barriers, as applicable to the LEA’s local context, which may impede equitable access or participation in the LEA’s Federal programs.

Resources

 

 

The LEA may use information they have obtained through their comprehensive needs assessment process or their Unified Improvement Plan (UIP) to develop their statement in response to the GEPA requirement.  The root causes identified in the UIP combined with the associated use of federal funds may be appropriate, based on the LEA’s local context, to satisfy the GEPA requirement.  Examples of this approach are illustrated below.

  • The LEA or school may have identified a lack of cultural competency in instruction, specifically in regard to the social, emotional, and academic success of its English learners, as a root cause of low student achievement. If the LEA then utilizes their Federal funds to provide professional development opportunities for teachers by addressing culturally responsive instructional practices, a description of how this activity will be implemented would address a barrier to equitable participation based on national origin, thereby satisfying the GEPA requirement.
  • The LEA or school may identify the disproportionate use of exclusionary discipline practices (removing or excluding students from the classroom), specifically in regard to black, Hispanic, or Native American students, as a root cause of low student achievement.  If the LEA then utilizes their Federal funds to reduce the use of discipline practices that remove students from the classroom, a description of how this activity will be implemented would address a barrier to equitable participation for students of color, thereby satisfying the GEPA requirement.
  • The LEA or school may identify a lack of student participation in advanced placement STEM courses, specifically in regard to female students, as a root cause of low student achievement.  If the LEA is then utilizing their Federal funds to increase outreach efforts to female students to encourage enrollment and participation in advanced placement STEM courses, a description of how this activity will be implemented would address a barrier to equitable participation for students based on gender, thereby satisfying the GEPA requirement.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What is the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA)?

  • Answer: GEPA contains a broad array of statutory provisions that are applicable to the majority of federal education programs administered by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE), as well as provisions related to the powers and responsibilities of the USDE.

Question: How does GEPA apply to my LEA/BOCES as a recipient of ESEA funds?

  • Answer: Section 427, which requires applications for federal funds (i.e. Consolidated Application) to include a description of:
    • Steps the applicant proposes to take in order to ensure equitable access to, and participation in, its federal-assisted program for students, teachers, and other program beneficiaries.
      • The description need not be lengthy to satisfy the statement requirements.
      • CDE is responsible for ensuring that the applicant has submitted a sufficient statement.

Question: What are the possible barriers to participation?

  • Answer.: The possible barriers that may impede equitable access to federally funded programs include gender, race, national origin, color, disability, age, or others as identified by the applicant.

Question: Do I have to submit a GEPA statement for every barrier listed?

  • Answer: No.  The applicant may submit multiple GEPA statements, if applicable and appropriate, however the requirement is that the applicant submits at least one statement.

Question: By identifying a barrier to participation, am I admitting in writing that the district is discriminating against students or staff?

  • Answer: Generally, no.  Barriers are not the same as overt discriminatory practices.  Civil rights laws prohibit the use of discriminatory practices in federally-funded programs and the applicant’s creation and implementation of a non-discrimination policy often addresses such requirements.While the LEA’s statement of non-discrimination is supportive of the intent of the GEPA statement, it does not satisfy the GEPA requirement.  Further, it is the presumption of the Colorado Department of Education that an applicant is not intentionally implementing discriminatory practices; however, if in the process of assessing potential barriers the applicant identifies such practice, it would be incumbent upon the applicant to address and remedy the practice in a timely manner.

Question.: How long does the GEPA statement need to be?

  • Answer: The description(s) provided in the Consolidated Application need not be lengthy.  Applicants may provide a clear and succinct description of how the LEA will address the barriers, as applicable to the LEA’s local context, which may impede equitable access or participation in the LEA’s Federal programs.

Question: Can I use one GEPA statement for all applications I submit?

  • Answer: It depends.  Applicants should submit a GEPA statement that is responsive to how the applicant has identified and mitigated an existing barrier to participation in the activities supported with the federal funds for which the application is being submitted.  In the case that the funds for which an applicant is applying (i.e. Consolidated Application, competitive grants, etc.) experience different barriers to participation, the applicant should submit GEPA statements that are responsive to the applicable barriers.

Question: Where can I find more information to support me as I write the GEPA statement?

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