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Understanding Policies and Possible Changes

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Across Colorado and the nation, there are numerous examples of equity-driven policies.

In many cases, equity work is not a “nice to have,” it’s the law.

The following sections explore federal/state statutes that support equity work and specific school/district-based policy examples and models to learn from.

Federal and State Statutes

The CDE is committed to a policy of nondiscrimination in relation to race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status or disability in admissions, access to treatment or employment in educational programs or activities it operates.

Federal Law

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects individuals from discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin in any program or activity that receives federal financial assistance from the Department of Health and Human Services. Specific discriminatory actions prohibited under Title VI include:

  • Providing services more limited in scope or lower in quality

  • Limiting participation in a program

The Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974 requires districts, schools and public charter schools to take action to overcome academic and linguistic barriers to students’ equal participation.

Plyler v. Doe: Right to Attend Free Public School of 1982 was a Supreme Court case that dictated that public schools may not deny admission to a student during initial enrollment or at any other time on the basis of undocumented status.

For more general information on nationally protected classes in education, such as American Indian and Alaska Native students, English Language Learners, students with disabilities, etc., please see this federal resource.

Colorado Law

Colorado prohibits discrimination in the areas of: race, color, age, physical/mental disability, national origin, religion/creed, ancestry, retaliation, sex, marriage to a coworker, sexual orientation and marital status. The Colorado Civil Rights Division works to assure that all persons are afforded the equal protection of the law.

School District Policy

An important starting point for school districts in the prevention of civil rights concerns is the issuance of comprehensive policies based on current laws prohibiting discrimination within all programs and activities. Such policies place staff, students and the public on notice regarding expectations and also provide standards for taking action when problems arise.

Fairness and equity in policymaking is done with intention. Policymaking bodies must pay close attention to the impact of their policies and play an active role in ensuring that both their intent and impact are consistent with a community's expressed values. The measure of accountability and assessment are whether policies and rulemaking advance a shared agenda of fairness, opportunity and access.

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