September 20, 2013–The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights announced today the successful resolution of a compliance review that was initiated at the Iowa City Community School District in Iowa City, Iowa. The review examined whether the school district discriminates against African American students on the bases of race and/or disability, in the pre-referral/referral and evaluation of these students for special education and in their placement in special education.
From the inception of the review, the district worked collaboratively with OCR. The district voluntarily entered into a resolution agreement prior to OCR’s making any compliance determinations.
The investigation revealed, however, that African American students continue to be enrolled in special education in the district at a rate that is disproportionate to their enrollment. In particular, in the 2012-2013 school year, African American students accounted for 2,222 of the 12,774 students, or 17.4 percent, enrolled in the district and were 407 of the 1,385 students, or 29.4 percent, in special education.
“Inappropriately placing students of color in special education programs can have adverse long-term educational consequences for these students,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for the Office for Civil Rights. “We appreciate the district’s commitment to working with OCR to address this important civil rights issue.”