Very few Latino and Spanish-speaking students attend the Cleveland school district’s four science and math specialty high schools.
Indeed, only 130 Hispanic students attend the schools out of the district’s total Hispanic enrollment of 5,586 Hispanic students. The disparity was so extreme that it caught the eye of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). This week, the office announced an agreement with the district to remedy the problem .
The specialty high schools have STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs.
As part of the agreement, the school district agreed to do the following:
– Form a committee of district and community members to determine the barriers to more Hispanics enrolling in the STEM program.
– Develop a plan to submit to the OCR by the end of the school year to ensure access, which will be implemented in 2014-15.
– Promote STEM programs to Latino families and students.
– Ensure that Spanish-language materials about the programs are available to families.
– Monitor Hispanic enrollment in STEM and adjust the plan as necessary to address any further discrepancies.
– Improve counseling services.
The Office of Civil Rights commended the district to cooperating. Hispanic community leader Jose Feliciano also told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that he had no ill will toward the district.
“I never had any sense that they were keeping kids out,” he said. “They just weren’t doing affirmative things to get kids in.”
– “U.S. Department of Education and Cleveland Metropolitan School District Reach Agreement to Provide Equal Access to STEM Programs for Limited English Proficient (LEP) and Latino Students,” U.S. Department of Education.