Department of Education Warns School Districts Not to Discriminate When Making Budget Cuts

Catherine Lhamon PortaitCatherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education, recently sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to the nation’s school districts. The 37-page letter emphasized that in an era where cutbacks in school budgets and educational programs are commonplace, the districts are obligated under federal law to ensure that their policies and practices do not discriminate against “students of color.”

A Dear Colleague letter is considered to be a “significant guidance document” outlining expected conduct under federal laws and regulations.

Lhamon warned districts that intentional discrimination, as well as policies that result in a disparate negative impact on students of color, would not be tolerated.

She concludes her Dear Colleague letter by stating: “We appreciate your attention to ensuring that students of all races and national origin backgrounds have equal access to effective teaching, adequate facilities, and quality instructional programs and support, and thus have an equal opportunity to attain the academic success upon which our future depends.”

Lhamon is a summa cum laude graduate of Amherst College in Massachusetts and earned her law degree at Yale.

Lhamon’s “Dear Colleague” letter may be downloaded by clicking here.



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