Equal Educational Opportunity Agreement - Coatesville


for Improving School-Community Relations

Coatesville Area School District, Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People – PA, and Center for Safe Schools/Mid-Atlantic Equity Center

This Plan is the result of several earnest meetings among area service and community representatives that include the Coatesville Area School District, The PA Human Relations Commission (PHRC), The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People – Pennsylvania (NAACP-PA), and The Center for Safe School/The Mid-Atlantic Equity Center.

The express intent of the parties to this Agreement is to offer a means for improving the relationship between the Coatesville Area School District (CASD) and area residents. All parties have voluntarily agreed to participate in this Agreement in the spirit of community reconciliation and cooperation, requesting the services of the Department of Justice’s Community Relations Services (CRS).

I. Issues Identified

a. Understanding the harmful effect of events surrounding the texting scandal involving two former administrators in the CASD, PHRC, The Center for Safe Schools/The Mid-Atlantic Equity Center and other agreed upon support agencies will maintain a visible presence in the community and offer both the CASD and the community support in moving forward.

b. PHRC, NAACP, Center for Safe School will make every effort to attend community events related to the incidents, check in frequently with the district and/or its attorney by phone and/or e-mail, and ask for status updates. Applicable media reports, available from partners and through web search engine alerts, should be reviewed. Since rumors and fears invariably increase tensions when a school district is dealing with the aftermath of such an incident, open communication between the school district, the community and the partners is crucial. In the interest of open communication, partners should seek the district’s response to published reports.

II. Joint Solutions

a. In response, the parties to this agreement shall take the following actions.

i. Promote transparency by keeping students, parents, and staff informed of the district’s issues and activities. For example: administrative position changes and appointments, policy changes, significant incident updates, position openings.

ii. Provide information to students, parents and the community frequently. Press releases, automated telephone calls, newsletters and memoranda are examples of the methods that can be used for this purpose. The district should explore ways to harness social media for this purpose effectively and professionally.

iii. Designate a spokesperson to give interviews on behalf of the CASD when needed in order to maintain consistent messages and to aid in avoiding misquoting and misinterpretation in media reports.

iv. Make periodic announcements assuring students and staff that they can voice concerns regarding discrimination, inequity, bullying, or any other issue to a particular office either in their school or to district administration. These announcements can be made by school principals, assistant principals, school staff, or district administration.

v. Send letters/e-mail messages to parents to assure them that the district is taking all reasonable measures to treat all students and staff fairly and to provide a safe and respectful environment. This method may be particularly useful when situations such as the texting scandal arise.

vi. Post and exhibit prominently, as required by law, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission’s (PHRC) fair practice notices for employers and educational institutions subject to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. The notices should be prominently posted in areas where both students and employees have access and can see and read them.

vii. Include a reference to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act to its anti-discrimination policy statement wherever that statement appears, including CASD’s website. Provide the PHRC’s web address in all documentation where the aforementioned policy statements are located. The CASD shall maintain an anti-discrimination policy, in accordance with applicable law. The policy shall apply to the board, staff, teachers, administration, students and all vendors doing business with the CASD.

viii. Following an assessment hearing, partners may provide civil rights clinics or trainings for the board, staff and/or students. Sample topics include an overview of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act’s education provisions and Pennsylvania Fair Educational Opportunities Act; a discussion of the PHRC’s Equal Educational Opportunity Guidelines for Public Schools; school safety; protected-class bullying.

ix. Where possible, the CASD shall hold separate action planning days with the NAACP and other partners, which might include the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR), US Department of Justice – Community Relations Service (DOJ/CRS), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Center for Safe Schools/Mid Atlantic Equity Center and religious communities. Divide participants into groups of four to six members, each with a PHRC or partner facilitator, to accomplish the following: (a) identify and prioritize challenges; (b) brainstorm solutions to those challenges; (c) list concrete action plans; and (d) accept volunteers to carry out those plans.

x. Arrange to train all CASD employees and its school board in cultural competency and in the right of all students and employees to be treated in a non-discriminatory manner and to be free from harassment, pursuant to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, regardless of their protected class.

b. The parties also agree in good faith to take the following actions to decrease the likelihood of similar incidents:

i. It is understood that the hiring of an Equity professional is preferred. In light of budgetary concerns, the District may opt to enlist the local Intermediate Unit to assist with equity/diversity initiatives. The District will provide periodic updates on the work of the Intermediate Unit. Additionally, the District will agree to revisit its ability to hire an Equity Coordinator/Equity Director or consultant for the duration of this Action Plan no less frequently than annually.

ii. Administer and tabulate the results of a school climate survey for students and staff. When the results have been tabulated, the CASD shall use the results to guide its equity efforts. Survey results will not be accessible to the public. If warranted, the CASD shall repeat this distribution of a school-wide climate survey, tabulation of results, and modification of procedures during the 2014-2015 academic years. This climate survey can be administered and tabulated by the Mid-Atlantic Equity Center at no cost to the CASD.

iii. Provide an electronic tip-line, telephone helpline, or a centrally located physical mailbox/container through which students and staff, identified by name, or submitted anonymously, may have an opportunity to submit their concerns. For school-based reporting, principals and/or assistant principals or school counselors can monitor submissions. From a district perspective, the district’s Director of Student Services or Assistant Superintendent can be charged with monitoring of individual schools to make sure that building representatives are following up on submissions in a timely manner.

iv. Improve the school environment by, for example, offering extra-curricular activities that appeal to students of diverse backgrounds, offering a student unity group exercise such as that offered in the U. S. Department of Justice – Community Relations Service’s S.P.I.R.I.T. Program, or the Anti-Defamation League’s "No Place for Hate" program, and holding student-driven multi-cultural celebrations and displaying student decorated diversity-themed bulletin boards throughout the school year.

v. Foster strong community relations by developing strong and positive relationships with parents and diverse community members through reasonable measures and inviting positive media coverage. Suggested activities: district-wide community sprit days, cultural appreciation days inviting families and the greater Coatesville community; school sponsored events with multi-cultural emphasis.

vi. Ask local newspapers to publish a column or an online blog for students of all backgrounds to write about their lives in Coatesville and their plans for the future.

vii. Become an active, participating member of the Pennsylvania Interagency Task Force on Community Activities and Relations. PHRC can provide details on how the CASD can get involved with the Task Force.

viii. Create a "Rumor Control Mechanism" to address concerns and educate community and police with available facts, programs, and services including sharing best practices with regard to reducing tension in the school population and between parents and school officials (i.e. teachers, staff, and et. al.)

III. Mutual Education Efforts

a. The CASD, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, and the NAACP-PA will coordinate with the Center for Safe Schools/The Mid-Atlantic Equity Center and DOJ/CRS or like services to identify appropriate programs to benefit the school officials, students, and the community.

i. These include programs developed by the PA Human Relations Commission, the Department of Justice CRS or like services, NAACP-PA, the Community Responders Network, and/or Anti-Defamation League; these include, but are not limited to, the following programs:

1. "Trauma as an Impediment to School Performance" (Dr. Joan Duvall-Flynn, NAACP-PA, 610-358-1582)

2. "Cultural Professionalism" (DOJ/CRS)

3. "PA Human Relations Act" and "Civil Rights Laws" (PHRC)

4. "Hate Crimes Training" and "Dealing with Hate Groups" (CRN-DOJ/CRS and ADL)

5. "Effects of Demographic Changes" (CRN)

IV. Support Resources

a. The parties also agree to work collaboratively with each other and reach out to any other agreed upon resource that may also render assistance in identifying additional subject matter experts in providing school-community based training and support programs and other public and private entities that may offer additional program or grant assistance to Coatesville toward further advancing area school- community relations and support.

Voluntary Agreement and Ethics Disclaimer

This Plan is the result of voluntary discussion between the parties and is not a result of duress, coercion, or undue influence. Nothing in this Plan should be taken as an admission of wrongdoing by any party and the terms and conditions contained herein are non-contractual and create no independent contractual obligation and/or duties upon any of the parties hereto. No party to this Plan shall institute or prosecute any judicial or administrative proceedings of any kind or nature to enforce any of the terms and conditions herein.

Terms of Agreement

All of the aforementioned tenets of this Plan shall be reviewed after every year from the date of signing. Signatory parties of this Plan at that time may choose to amend, extend or dissolve the Plan based on evidence of good faith, mutual compliance and benefits to the residents and community of Coatesville, PA resulting from this relationship.

The parties of this Plan agree to work in earnest and convene themselves regularly during the term specified to uphold the tenets of the Plan as described herein.

Dispute Resolution

In the event that the parties to this Plan cannot reach agreement on issues before it, neutral informal dispute resolution will be sought to resolve their differences. The services of the U.S. Department of Justice, Community Relations Service might be sought in this regard.

Party and Third Party Rights

Nothing in this Plan is intended to create, nor shall anything in it be construed as creating any rights in any third party entity or person that would not exist independently of this Plan/Agreement.

Consummation and Ratification

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties have executed and delivered this Plan/Agreement as of this 13th day January of 2015 and the signatories hereto personally represent that this Plan/Agreement is executed pursuant to legal authorization by the organizations on behalf of which they are signing:

Coatesville Area School District Coatesville Area School District


Cathy Taschner, Superintendent Dean A. Snyder, President

Coatesville Area School District Coatesville Area School District


Stuart C. N. Deets, Vice President Diane M. Brownfield, Board Member

Coatesville Area School District Coatesville Area School District


James L. Fox, Board Member James Hills, Board Member

Coatesville Area School District Coatesville Area School District


Laurie C. Knecht, Board Member Michele S. Maffei, Board Member

Coatesville Area School District Coatesville Area School District


Deborah L. Thompson, Board Ann Wuertz, Board Member

PA Human Relations Commission


JoAnn Edwards, Executive Director of PHRC

National Association for the Advancement for Colored People - PA


Dr. Joan Duvall-Flynn, Education Committee Chair

Center for Safe Schools/Mid-Atlantic Equity Center


Michelle Nutter, Program Director

Witnessed By:


Knight Sor, Conciliation Specialist

U.S. Department of Justice, Community Relations Service

This Plan of Action (Plan/Agreement) is consistent with the United States Department of Justice, Community Relations Service (CRS) congressional mandate as detailed in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. §2000g). CRS provides assistance to communities and persons therein in resolving disputes, disagreements or difficulties related to conflicts and tensions based on race, color, and national origin. CRS also works with these parties to help communities prevent and respond more effectively to violent hate crimes committed on the basis of actual or perceived race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, or disability.