The Equity Assistance Center (EAC) was established to provide assistance to the school districts of the State in such activities as affirmative action, program accessibility, human relations, awareness and desegregation. The EAC shall maintain manuals, guidelines, procedures, and other informational materials setting the requirements on civil rights and describing how determination of compliance is made.
The U.S. Department of Education’s (Department) new civil rights chief has put school districts on notice that protecting students from sexual harassment will be a top priority. Stephanie Monroe, Assistance Secretary for civil rights, recently informed school district leaders across the country that the Department would launch a series of (compliance reviews) to evaluate how schools are dealing with sexual-harassment issues. In a letter dated January 25, 2006, Ms. Monroe commended efforts by many districts to deal with harassment issues, but also wrote, “unfortunately, a significant number of students are still subjected to sexual harassment, which can interfere with a student’s education as well as his or her emotional and physical well-being.”
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is the law barring sex discrimination. The Department’s extensive guidance, released in January 2001 was meant to interpret U.S. Supreme Court decisions of the late 1990s holding that schools could be held liable for monetary damages in lawsuits if the school failed to adequately respond to sexual harassment of students.
The EAC has the responsibility of assisting school districts in meeting its civil rights responsibilities. EAC assistance shall include on-site visits, workshops, program review and other activities to enable school districts to effectively meet civil rights responsibilities. The EAC is to serve as the liaison between the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) and the United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and provide Arkansas public school districts information regarding compliance. The web site to the Revised Sexual Harassment Guidance of 2001 is http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/shguide.html.
For further assistance, contact the EAC staff at 501-682-4245.