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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Hillsborough's discrimination case: The documents behind the story

Nearly two years of task force meetings and School Board workshops took place before the Hillsborough district changed its student handbook to discourage vague offense terms and excessive punishment.

Nearly two years of task force meetings and School Board workshops took place before the Hillsborough district changed its student handbook to discourage vague offense terms and excessive punishment.

8

February

The ongoing federal investigation of Hillsborough County described in this article began with this complaint from Tampa activist Marilyn Williams in early 2014.

MaryEllen Elia was still the superintendent. A task force on African American male students had already begun to meet, and plans were in place to close the racial disparity in discipline.

The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights responded to William's complaint with this letter, demanding voluminous data from the district in the summer of 2014. 

District staff provided more than a dozen large crates of data for the investigation, which continued throughout the school year. Elia was fired that January, soon replaced by Jeff Eakins. Continuing the work Elia had begun, Eakins moved ahead with a plan to assign success coaches to most middle and high schools. He also pushed for revisions to the student handbook that had been suggested by a task force. The new policies, which included a reduction in the lenghth of out-of-school suspensions, took effect this school year. 

Students are spending far more time in school as a result of the new policy, data show. But the racial gap, though narrowing, still persists

Nevertheless, Eakins says enough has been done to create a blueprint for a resolution agreement with the federal agency. If his plan is successful, the OCR will attach timelines to the document and create a resolution agreement that the two sides can sign. 

[Last modified: Monday, February 8, 2016 6:34pm]

    

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