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Toledo Public Schools reaches agreement with DOJ regarding discriminatory punishment

The settlement follows a federal investigation into complaints of discriminatory treatment of Black students and students with disabilities.

TOLEDO, Ohio — The Department of Justice and Toledo Public Schools have reached a settlement over complaints of discriminatory discipline of students based on their race or disability. 

The agreement also requires the district to provide appropriate language services for parents who aren't fluent in English on matters essential to their children's education. 

The settlement follows a federal civil rights investigation into complaints of discriminatory treatment of Black students and students with disabilities when being suspended, expelled, or referred to law enforcement agencies, according to the DOJ.

The federal government also investigated allegations concerning the district’s communications with parents and guardians with language barriers. The school district cooperated fully throughout the investigation, the DOJ said. 

“Discrimination against students because of their race or disability has no place in our country’s public schools,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband said. “A student’s race or disability should never mean receiving harsher punishment in school. Such practices are unfair and unlawful, and they deny students equal access to the educational opportunities that are critical to success in school and beyond. We look forward to continuing to work with the Toledo Public Schools to implement this settlement and fulfill its promise of equal treatment for all of the district’s students.” 

Under the settlement agreement, the district will take proactive steps to ensure its discipline practices do not discriminate against students based on race or disability.  

In addition, the district will, among other things, regularly review how schools handle discipline incidents to ensure non-discriminatory treatment, expand its use of positive behavior supports, and provide appropriate training and resources to help schools implement the agreement, including training for teachers, administrators, and school safety officers.  

And for parents and guardians with language barriers, the district will ensure it communicates essential school-related information in a language that they understand so their children can access the district’s instructional programs.

“Federal law does not allow schools to discipline students because of their race or disability or to deny access to essential school-related information to parents and guardians with language barriers,” the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, Justin Herdman, added. 

Toledo Public Schools Board of Education President Bob Vasquez released the following statement regarding the agreement:

"Toledo Public Schools has worked cooperatively with the Department Of Justice on an agreement that ensures fair and equal administration of student discipline and provides enhanced translation and interpretation services for students and parents with limited English proficiency. This Agreement reflects the joint efforts between TPS and the DOJ that went into developing a resolution to these matters. Toledo Public Schools took a proactive approach toward resolution of the issues originally brought forward. The measures listed in the Agreement have already been implemented by the district in support of all students. The formation of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Department is another example of how TPS works to provide the best possible learning opportunities for all students."