On July 3, 2018, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education jointly released a new “Dear Colleague Letter” (DCL) withdrawing the following previously released guidance documents:
In the now-withdrawn documents, the Departments analyzed how schools made decisions based on race and discussed steps schools could take to increase racial diversity and avoid racial isolation. For example, the guidance indicated that schools could meet those objectives by placing schools in locations that would draw students from varying socioeconomic groups and assigning students to schools based on household annual incomes.
The Departments now conclude, however, that the previous guidance inappropriately advocated policy preferences and appeared to prematurely conjecture whether particular actions would violate the Constitution or federal law. The DCL confirms that agency guidance should plainly set forth applicable legal requirements, rather than suggesting that recipients of funding take a particular course of action.
Schools officials should review their school policies to determine whether those policies reference, or are based on, the withdrawn guidance. If so, the policies should be revised accordingly.