Friday, October 28, 2016

Terese Jurgensen ~ Director of Student Services ~ October 28, 2016

I am the Equity Coordinator for Howard-Winneshiek Community Schools. Many people do not realize, but equity is a vital part of public education. There are many laws revolving around equity and all of them include the Office of Civil Rights. These same laws speak to educators ensuring that we work hard to differentiate instruction as well as give all students equal access to extra-curricular activities. Equity Education requires the public school to post these laws and make the public aware of them and so I have decided to feature these laws (explaining them a bit) here, on my weekly update. I hope the reader enjoys this short lesson and if you do have any questions or concerns, I am always here via email or phone call to answer those items. 

Equity Review Process:
Both federal and state laws require that there be no discrimination in educational programs or in school hiring practices on the basis of race, national origin, color, religion, creed, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity and marital status. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education requires state education agencies to develop "Methods of Administration" to reasonably assure that sub-recipients of federal financial assistance are in compliance with federal civil rights laws and to correct areas of non-compliance. The federal civil rights laws include:
  • Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 - GENDER EQUITY

Transgender Students:
Compliance with Title IX As a condition of receiving Federal funds, a school agrees that it will not exclude, separate, deny benefits to, or otherwise treat differently on the basis of sex any person in its educational programs or activities unless expressly authorized to do so under Title IX or its implementing regulations.4 The Departments treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for purposes of Title IX and its implementing regulations. This means that a school must not treat a transgender student differently from the way it treats other students of the same gender identity. The Departments’ interpretation is consistent with courts’ and other agencies’ interpretations of Federal laws prohibiting sex discrimination.5 The Departments interpret Title IX to require that when a student or the student’s parent or guardian, as appropriate, notifies the school administration that the student will assert a gender identity that differs from previous representations or records, the school will begin treating the student consistent with the student’s gender identity. Under Title IX, there is no medical diagnosis or treatment requirement that students must meet as a prerequisite to being treated consistent with their gender identity.6 Because transgender students often are unable to obtain identification documents that reflect their gender identity (e.g., due to restrictions imposed by state or local law in their place of birth or residence),7 requiring students to produce such identification documents in order to treat them consistent with their gender identity may violate Title IX when doing so has the practical effect of limiting or denying students equal access to an educational program or activity. A school’s Title IX obligation to ensure nondiscrimination on the basis of sex requires schools to provide transgender students equal access to educational programs and activities even in circumstances in which other students, parents, or community members raise objections or concerns. As is consistently recognized in civil rights cases, the desire to accommodate others’ discomfort cannot justify a policy that singles out and disadvantages a particular class of students. 


The Iowa Department of Education has the legal responsibility to monitor compliance with these equity-related requirements in school districts receiving federal and state funding. The Equity Review Process is one way the department carries out this responsibility. While all accreditation/school improvement visits incorporate components of equity and civil rights, some school districts are selected each year to receive a focused equity visit. There are several criteria used to determine who will have an equity review each year. The universe from which school districts are selected for equity reviews includes all the school districts that are scheduled to have a school improvement/accreditation visit in a given year. The criteria used to select districts from that universe include; (1) A review of course and program enrollment data in career and technical programs disaggregated on the basis of gender, disability and racial/ethnic background; (2) Changing demographics within the boundaries of an educational agency; (3) Complaints received from parents, students, staff, applicants for employment or community representatives and referrals from elapsed since the district's last equity review. The Iowa Department of Education is required to submit a Targeting Plan every two years to the Office for Civil Rights. 

To read more on the subject of Equity, please visit the Iowa Department of Education at:


Good Luck Tonight Varsity Football!

1st Playoff Game for State!

Have a great week!
Please do not hesitate to call or email me, Terese Jurgensen

at: (563) 929-6344

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