OCR Frequently Asked Questions

General Information for the Public
 
Office of Civil Rights (OCR) Agreement 
 
What is the “Story” with the OCR Agreement?  The OCR effort in which ACPS is now engaged is a response to a complaint filed over a year ago.  The complaint was the result of one student assault on another.  The aggressor student was removed from school, and that was the basis of the complaint.  The parents filed the OCR complaint and during the summer 2014 the school division provided hundreds of pages of data and information. This past summer we were told that the OCR attorneys found no problem with our handling of this specific case, but did feel that in looking at the data provided there might be some discrepancy in how we apply discipline to all children across the division with particular focus on our largest school, ACHS.  There is no admission of any wrong doing; it is that the division has agreed to look in depth at all our discipline procedures, track/evaluate our data, and to take steps to insure fairness and equity across all schools and grade levels. 
 
What Is ACPS Doing to Address the Agreement?  As a school division we agreed to a process set by OCR to examine our process and procedures, evaluate the data, and make the necessary adjustments. To do this we are complying with a large, multi-page agreement that will require the collection and correlation of discipline data, to provide supportive training as needed, to revise processes and procedures, as needed, that involve discipline to insure fairness, to involve outside expert(s) that will evaluate our work from a neutral perspective, and to involve numerous individuals in these efforts.  We begin with a division wide Steering Committee at the Central Office level.  Beneath this is an Equity Working Group at ACHS (as our largest schools by population).  This group will facilitate surveys, examination of data, and make presentations of results/ suggestions to the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee, with the Superintendent as Chair, will direct any changes made division wide as well as school level to effect positive change. Numerous individuals from central administration, school-based administration, teachers, support staff, community members, collegiate experts, and community organizations are involved in numerous committee assignments. 
 
What Training Will be Provided to Address the Agreement?   As surveys of attitudes/ behaviors are to be conducted, literature reviewed, observation made, and evaluation of discipline data; then, plans will be put into place for the training of all staff across the division to promote awareness/ learning, to promote equity, and to insure fairness.  This will be mandatory training with results shared with OCR.  Much of our training will be developed and conducted in house using our resident equity expert, Dr. Pam McFaden, who has a number of years of extensive educational preparation and career experience in this area. For some of the training, experts from the University of Virginia and other agencies will be utilized for training purposes.  In as many instances as possible and practical, training will be conducted as school-based in a faculty meeting format.  The school division will make every effort to limit intrusions this school year on previously identified staff development days or in after school sessions.  That is not say, next school year, the timing and format may change somewhat.  The OCR agreement will require our involvement for a few years, so each year will be set for review/ training in light of other responsibilities.
 
Will This Examination Affect How Students are Disciplined?   Absolutely not, as long as the disciplinarian in all cases is being fair and consistent in actions taken.  This examination is not seeking to make young people less accountable, but is seeking to find ways to effect discipline that meets the need of appropriate conduct, promotes a safe and secure learning environment, and insures fairness.  Above all, ACPS is a community of scholars and as such our mission and focus is and will remain—a quality education for all in a safe, secure, and orderly environment. 
 
Who Are the Leaders in This Effort?  The division wide Discipline Supervisor who is charged with working closely with the Superintendent and Senior Staff as well as all principals to facilitate a thorough and complete review of data, processes, and procedures is Hollie Jennings.  She is working closely with members of both the Steering Committee and the ACHS Equity Working Group to assist the division in meeting the requirements of OCR.  Dr. Pam McFaden is working with the surveys, training, and data analysis, and is assisted by Dr. Wells, Principal at ACHS in working with that larger population’s data.   Other members of the various OCR committees appear in other areas of this webpage.
 
Where Will I Find the Most Current Information?   In an effort to insure effective communication and transparency, the work of the various committees, as a part of the overall OCR effort, will be posted to this web page from time to time.  If you have questions beyond what you find here, you may contact the Division Discipline Supervisor, Ms. Hollie Jennings at 434-946-9387 or at hjennings@amherst.k12.va.us.