Help...My Child Is Being Discriminated Against at School
Updated: Sep 28
It is 2019. The world is an interesting place. Sadly, the reality is that people, including our children, are being targeted due to their race, gender, national origin, sexual orientation or disabilities. What do you do you do as the parent of an African-American child when they come home and tell you that another student has been calling them the n- word, making gorilla noises towards them, and threatening to lynch them during recess; or your daughter tells you that a boy in her class constantly talks about her body to the point that she is uncomfortable and afraid to go to school, or your disabled child tells you they are not allowed to participate in recess because the school does not have the man power to supervise them while on the playground?
Schools are required to protect every student's right to learn in a safe environment that is free from discrimination. The United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights ("OCR") serves as the enforcement body to ensure that schools comply with the following federal civil rights laws:
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin;
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex;
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability;
Age Discrimination Act of 1975, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of age;
The underlined words are considered "protected classes" of people. If you believe you child is being discriminated against by their school/school district and/or the school/school district is permitting other students or teachers to discriminate against your child, due to your child being a member of a protected class, you may be entitled to file a complaint with OCR. In some cases, gender identity and sexual orientation can be included under the protected class of sex.
YOU ONLY HAVE 180 CALENDAR DAYS (or 6 months) FROM THE DATE THE DISCRIMINATION OCCURRED TO FILE AN OCR COMPLAINT.
More information about how to file a complaint can be found here. You may choose to complete your complaint online, or you can mail or email a hard copy of the complaint to the OCR office that serves your state.
OCR will evaluate your complaint. If OCR decides to open your case, they will investigate the matter. The investigation consists of OCR researching the facts and the supporting documentation you provided, as well as the facts, student records, and supporting documentation the school/school district provides.
OCR may encourage the parties to attempt to resolve their dispute with an OCR attorney acting, in some ways, as a mediator. This is called a facilitated resolution. The complaint can also be resolved if the school/school district expresses an interest in resolving the matter, and OCR believes their proposed resolution is appropriate. This is called a resolution agreement. More information about the OCR process can be found here.
Our office can draft and file OCR complaints on your behalf. We charge a low-cost flat fee retainer to do so. If you would like assistance filing a discrimination complaint against your child's school/school district, please contact us.