Parent Complaints to the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights
Parents who feel a school committed a civil rights violation can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The office’s duty is to enforce federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education. Here are several Arizona charter schools that have been reprimanded for their treatment of students with disabilities and ELL students in recent years:
Filed in February 2016 against the BASIS schools
“Specifically, the complainant alleged that BASIS’ websites contained barriers to access for people with disabilities, thereby denying them an equal opportunity to participate in BASIS’s programs, services, and activities and denying them effective communication necessary for full participation in BASIS’s programs, services, and activities …” In response, BASIS submitted a signed resolution agreement and committed to take actions to reach compliance. Those actions included making all new website content and functionality accessible to people with disabilities. The OCR said it would monitor BASIS’ implementation of the agreement.
Filed in November 2014 against the BASIS schools
The complainant alleged BASIS discriminated on the basis of disability “by having a policy of not modifying curriculum for students with disabilities.” BASIS voluntarily entered into an agreement to resolve the allegation. The agreement included submitting its special education policies and procedures to the OCR for review. The OCR said it would monitor BASIS’ implementation of the agreement.
Filed in February 2016 against Imagine Prep Coolidge
The complainant alleged Imagine Prep Coolidge refused to enroll her son, who has Down syndrome, at Imagine Prep Coolidge despite enrolling her other son who does not have a disability. She said school officials told her they lost her son’s enrollment paperwork and later said they never received it. The school told OCR that it wished to resolve the complainant’s allegations and submitted a resolution agreement. It included providing the school’s updated enrollment application and the school’s enrollment procedures for review and approval by the OCR.
Filed in February 2016 against Imagine Elementary at Coolidge
The complainant alleged Imagine Elementary at Coolidge “repeatedly failed to communicate with her in the language that she could understand.” The mother, a Spanish speaker, said the school’s registration and enrollment forms provided to her while trying to enroll her son in kindergarten for the 2015-16 school year were only in English. To resolve the allegations, the school voluntarily entered into an agreement that included developing and fully implementing a plan for how to communicate with limited English proficient parents and students. The OCR said it would monitor the school’s implementation of the agreement.