In December of 2014, the American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware and the Delaware Community Legal Aid filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights at the United States Department of Education. The complaint was against the State of Delaware and the Red Clay Consolidated School District. The allegations in the complaint were around how the state and Red Clay, as charter school authorizers, allowed charters to develop segregation and discriminatory practices in their enrollment. Almost three months later, after the ACLU gathered information from people around the state, they submitted the information to the Office of Civil Rights in their regional Philadelphia office. Since then, their has been no official resolution on the matter.
Back in February, the Racial Justice Program of the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation based out of New York reached out to the Office of Civil Rights for a status update. This is what they received back:
None of the charter schools listed in the complaint officially changed any of their admissions policies as a result of this. The Delaware Enrollment Preferences Task Force submitted their final report to the General Assembly shortly before the holidays last year, and not one piece of legislation has come out to address the issues. There is still a great amount of inequity in some Delaware charters compared to their neighboring school districts. I find it ironic both the Delaware DOE and the US DOE are so concerned about civil rights groups when it comes to high-stakes testing and how opt out could bring us back to “dark days” as some have put it. But when it comes to visible and transparent discrimination and segregation, the one office in the federal Government who could actually do something about it is sitting on it.
In looking at the OCR website at ed.gov there have been OCR complaints filed and resolved after the Delaware ACLU and Delaware Community Legal Aid filed their complaint. One was filed in September of 2015 and received a resolution in February of this year. The only cases showing from Delaware involved ones with Colonial School District, PolyTech and Family Foundations Academy from 2014. The longstanding Christina OCR resolution doesn’t show on the list because it only counts resolutions from 2013 and up.
I don’t see civil rights groups in Wilmington screaming about this. Why is that? When it comes to education and segregation, this is a shining example. Why are they so quiet on this issue but will say they know Smarter Balanced is a bad test but it is the only measurement for minority students to know if they are succeeding or not compared to their peers? I have to wonder how much influence the Delaware DOE and Governor Markell may have in making this drag out. Or possibly even higher up than them. Are any of our Delaware congressmen following up on this? John Carney? Tom Carper? Chris Coons? Or how about even Delaware’s own Vice-President Joe Biden? I’m certain this isn’t a resolution the Delaware Charter Schools Network wants to come out any time soon.
We need to rally civil rights groups on issues like this and not ones about opposition of parent opt out of high-stakes tests. I am calling on ALL Civil Rights groups to hammer the Office of Civil Rights office in Philadelphia, phone number (215) 656-8541, to make sure they are not stalling on this very important case.
Thank you to Richard Morse, Esq. for the Delaware ACLU in responding to my request to his office for information and allowing me to publish the response from the Office of Civil Rights.