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Laws and Regulations

The following are all areas of law, regulation, requirements, or accreditation that relate to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Each college should review their current efforts to ensure that they directly comply with these requirements.

Higher Learning Commission Accreditation requirements

1.C. The institution provides opportunities for civic engagement in a diverse, multicultural society and globally connected world, as appropriate within its mission and for the constituencies it serves.

  1. The institution encourages curricular or cocurricular activities that prepare students for informed citizenship and workplace success.

  2. The institution’s processes and activities demonstrate inclusive and equitable treatment of diverse populations.

  3. The institution fosters a climate of respect among all students, faculty, staff and administrators from a range of diverse backgrounds, ideas and perspectives.

3.B. The institution offers programs that engage students in collecting, analyzing and communicating information; in mastering modes of intellectual inquiry or creative work; and in developing skills adaptable to changing environments.

  1. The general education program is appropriate to the mission, educational offerings and degree levels of the institution. The institution articulates the purposes, content and intended learning outcomes of its undergraduate general education requirements.

  2. The program of general education is grounded in a philosophy or framework developed by the institution or adopted from an established framework. It imparts broad knowledge and intellectual concepts to students and develops skills and attitudes that the institution believes every college-educated person should possess.

  3. The education offered by the institution recognizes the human and cultural diversity and provides students with growth opportunities and lifelong skills to live and work in a multicultural world.

  4. The faculty and students contribute to scholarship, creative work and the discovery of knowledge to the extent appropriate to their offerings and the institution’s mission.

3.C. The institution has the faculty and staff needed for effective, high-quality programs and student services.

  1. The institution strives to ensure that the overall composition of its faculty and staff reflects human diversity as appropriate within its mission and for the constituencies it serves.

Title IX Federal Requirements Overview

Title IX is a federal civil rights law in the United States that was passed as part of the Education Amendments of 1972. Its primary aim is to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity that receives federal financial assistance. Here's an overview of the key requirements of Title IX:

  1. Non-Discrimination: Title IX requires that no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

  1. Educational Programs and Activities: This includes a wide range of educational activities, encompassing admissions, recruitment, financial aid, academic programs, athletics, housing, and employment. Schools are required to treat individuals equally in these areas without discrimination based on sex.

  1. Athletics: In the context of athletics, Title IX requires that women and men be provided equitable opportunities to participate in sports. Title IX doesn't require institutions to offer identical sports but an equal opportunity to play.

  1. Sexual Harassment and Violence: Title IX also covers issues of sexual harassment, including sexual violence and assault. Educational institutions must take immediate and effective steps to respond to sexual harassment and violence. This includes providing a process for handling complaints that meets certain standards for fairness and due process.

  1. Pregnancy and Parental Status: Title IX prohibits discrimination against a student based on pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or recovery from any of these conditions. It also prohibits discrimination against a student based on parental status.

  1. Employment: Employment in educational institutions is also covered by Title IX, which means that job discrimination based on sex is prohibited. This can include hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.

  1. Compliance and Enforcement: Educational institutions must designate at least one employee as a Title IX coordinator to oversee compliance, handle complaints, and carry out investigations. Schools must also notify all students and employees of their rights under Title IX and of the school's policies for ensuring those rights.

  1. Reporting and Resolution Procedures: Schools must establish and publish their procedures for students to file complaints of sex discrimination, including sexual harassment and assault. These procedures must provide a prompt and equitable resolution.

Title IX has been a critical tool in expanding access to educational opportunities for both women and men, ensuring that no person is denied the benefits of educational programs on the basis of sex.

The Federal government recently released updates to Title IX regulations that are being reviewed by the colleges.

Titles III, V, and VI

Each of these titles requires Iowa community colleges to meet the needs of specific student populations in order to be eligible for funding. For these Titles, colleges must collect data documenting efforts to support a needy student exemption request based on increasing higher education opportunities for low-income students who are also educationally disadvantaged, underrepresented in postsecondary education, or minority students. Specific plans where set to substantially increase higher education opportunities for Black or African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders, including Native Hawaiians.

Iowa State Accreditation

State accreditation in Iowa primarily reviews quality standards and other criteria designed to ensure students are getting a high-quality education. There are some areas that related specifically to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Special Needs and Protected Classes

Community colleges shall provide students with special needs, and those protected by state and federal civil rights regulation, with equal access to their full range of program offerings and services including, but not limited to, in recruitment, enrollment and placement activities. Students with disabilities shall be given access to the full range of course program offerings at a college through reasonable accommodations. The primary requirement associated with this standard is that the college publish an annual and a continuous notice of nondiscrimination. This Office for Civil Rights requirement is a component of both the state accreditation and the equity review process to ensure equal access to programs, services, facilities, etc. are provided to all college students and staff. A separate guide to these nondiscrimination statements is provided by the Department.

Equity Review Targeting Criteria

The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) Guidelines for Eliminating Discrimination and Denial of Services on the Basis of Race, Color, National Origin, Sex, and Handicap (The Guidelines) was published in the federal register in 1979 by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR).  The Guidelines address compliance reviews and responsibilities of state agencies and institutions who receive federal financial assistance.  All of the elements of the equity review are outlined in the The Guidelines, and are tied to Title VI, Title IX, and Section 504.  

The Department of Education is the state agency in Iowa who has an MOA with the Office of Civil Rights to complete the compliance reviews for community colleges in the state, as the Department is the agency that is responsible for the administration or supervision of vocational programs. "These agencies are required by the Guidelines to monitor subrecipients for civil rights compliance through technical assistance, analyses of already compiled information and data, and periodic compliance reviews (pg. 3 of The Guidelines).  The 2020 MOA is the Iowa Department of Education's agreement with OCR that outlines how institutions are identified for compliance reviews, and how those reviews will be carried out.

The Division considers the following criteria when selecting a college for a focused equity review visit:

ENROLLMENT PATTERNS BY SEX The percent of CTE programs that have 80 percent or more students of one sex enrolled. The variance of the percent of students enrolled in CTE programs by sex compared to the percent of students enrolled at the college by sex.

ENROLLMENT PATTERNS BY RACE/ETHNICITY The variance of the percent of minority students enrolled in CTE programs compared to the percent of minority students enrolled at the college.

ENROLLMENT PATTERNS BY DISABILITY The variance of the percent of students with disabilities enrolled in CTE programs compared to the percent of students with disabilities enrolled at the college.

COLLEGE DEMOGRAPHICS The demographics of students enrolled at the college.

CHANGE IN MINORITY STUDENT ENROLLMENT The change in the percent of minority students enrolled over the past five years.

EQUITY-RELATED COMPLAINTS Equity-related complaints received through the Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation’s complaint process.

TIME ELAPSED SINCE PREVIOUS ON-SITE EQUITY REVIEW Due to the cyclical nature of the Division’s accreditation/equity review cycle, the time elapsed criterion is more heavily weighted than the others.

Other Recent State Laws

In the last few years, the Iowa Legislature has created additional laws relating to diversity, equity and inclusion. HF744 required colleges to update free speech policies and make those policies and related procedures available on their websites. It also requires colleges to train faculty, staff, and students in this area annually. HF802 banned specific defined concepts from being included in any mandatory staff or faculty training.

Community Colleges for Iowa provided training, guidance, and sample policy in each of these areas and each college should review to ensure they are in compliance and reach out for additional support as needed.

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