The United States Education Department Office for Civil Rights investigated the Madison School District starting in 2014 and began conducting a compliance review in 2016. The Education Department found “statistically significant racial disparities in advanced placement enrollment at every district high school and such disparities were pronounced in the areas of math and science.”
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At issue is Madison School District compliance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VI, specifically, “whether the district discriminates against African-American and/or Hispanic students with respect to access, referral, identification, and selection for the district's Advanced Learner services.”
The Civil Rights Office also looked for discrimination in “access to foundational courses that are essential to prepare students to take rigorous courses and to provide them with the skills necessary for success in college and career.”
The Office for Civil Rights issued a letter on December 29, 2016, describing the results of their investigation. The letter was sent to Madison Schools Superintendent, Jennifer Cheatham. The letter references previous Madison District actions to scale back its use of prerequisites for advanced high school courses, implementing instead a system of “recommended skills and experiences.”
According to the letter, MMSD “proposed to voluntarily resolve the investigation” by agreeing to implement new efforts to increase access to advanced learning opportunities for Hispanic and African American students. These efforts are detailed in a Resolution Agreement, which Superintendent Cheatham signed on October 21, 2016.