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Equity, Inclusion and Free Speech
The following video recording and PowerPoint presentation broadly discuss the First Amendment, House File 744 (student free speech). They are provided to public school districts pursuant to Iowa Code 256.9(64) and shall be used by school districts to provide training annually to any equity coordinator employed by the school district (Iowa Code 279.75).
2021 Legislative Session: Equity, Inclusion, and Free Speech Guidance (7-2-21) - Provides summaries of the legislation that creates substantive requirements concerning equity and inclusion, as well as student free speech for elementary and secondary schools.
Equity Review Process
Both state and federal law requires that there be no discrimination in educational programs or in school hiring practices on the basis of race, color, national origin or ancestry, religion or creed, sex (including gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity), pregnancy, marital status, age, and disability. One way that the Iowa Department of Education (Department), in coordination with the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Office for Civil Rights (OCR), assures compliance with state and federal programs is through the oversight of the Methods of Administration (MOA) program. The purpose of the MOA program is to ensure that all students have equal access to high-quality career and technical education programs.
The Department administers the MOA program and is committed to reasonably assuring that sub-recipients (school districts and community colleges) of federal assistance comply with program requirements and appropriately address any areas of noncompliance. Annually, the Department utilizes an approved MOA Targeting Plan (current: 2020 Iowa MOA Plan) to identify which districts (serving grades 9-12) and community colleges will receive a focused MOA equity and accessibility review. There are several criteria and multi-tier analysis that factor into these decisions which includes general enrollment, career and technical education, and Perkins V Core indicators data. Once the sub-recipients are selected for a review, the Department works alongside the identified district and community college communicating any findings for correction of noncompliance, and provides technical assistance upon request. The Department submits this information as a report to the OCR biennially.
Equity Review Documents
Office for Civil Rights - Dear Colleague Letters
“The mission of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation through vigorous enforcement of civil rights.”
Periodically, OCR publicizes a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) to provide guidance relative to various civil rights laws and implications for federally-funded educational institutions. The following DCLs contain critical information related to several important issues, such as harassment based on disability, sex, race, or national origin. For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights webpage.