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Pre-employment disability inquiries: New federally-approved form by OFCCP/OMB for federal contractors and subcontractors

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Contract Compliance Programs and the Office of Management and Budget have released a new form, which is titled “Voluntary Self-Identification of Disability,” for use by federal contractors and subcontractors when conducting pre-employment disability inquiries pursuant to the revised regulations at 41 C.F.R. 60-741. The purpose of these inquiries is to promote recruitment and hiring of persons with disabilities, including veterans with disabilities. For more information, go to www.dol.gov/ofccp.

The content of the form is as follows:

Voluntary Self-Identification of Disability
Form CC-305 OMB Control Number 1250-0005

Why are you being asked to complete this form?

Because we do business with the government, we must reach out to, hire, and provide equal opportunity to qualified people with disabilities.i To help us measure how well we are doing, we are asking you to tell us if you have a disability or if you ever had a disability. Completing this form is voluntary, but we hope that you will choose to fill it out. If you are applying for a job, any answer you give will be kept private and will not be used against you in any way.

If you already work for us, your answer will not be used against you in any way. Because a person may become disabled at any time, we are required to ask all of our employees to update their information every five years. You may voluntarily self-identify as having a disability on this form without fear of any punishment because you did not identify as having a disability earlier.

How do I know if I have a disability?

You are considered to have a disability if you have a physical or mental impairment or medical condition that substantially limits a major life activity, or if you have a history or record of such an impairment or medical condition.

Disabilities include, but are not limited to: • Blindness • Autism • Bipolar disorder • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) • Deafness • Cerebral palsy • Major depression • Obsessive compulsive disorder • Cancer • HIV/AIDS • Multiple sclerosis (MS) • Impairments requiring the use of a wheelchair • Diabetes • Epilepsy • Schizophrenia • Muscular • Missing limbs or partially missing limbs • Intellectual disability (previously called mental retardation) • dystrophy

Please check one of the boxes below:

Your Name ___________________________________________

Today’s Date _________________________________________

___ YES, I HAVE A DISABILITY (or previously had a disability)

___ NO, I DON’T HAVE A DISABILITY

___ I DON’T WISH TO ANSWER

Reasonable Accommodation Notice

Federal law requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation to qualified individuals with disabilities. Please tell us if you require a reasonable accommodation to apply for a job or to perform your job. Examples of reasonable accommodation include making a change to the application process or work procedures, providing documents in an alternate format, using a sign language interpreter, or using specialized equipment.

Office of Disability Employment Policy Newsletter (January 24, 2014)

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

For more information on any of the following articles, go to www.dol.gov/odep.

Pennsylvania Statewide Independent Living Council Welcomes Assistant Secretary Martinez

Federal employment initiatives for people with disabilities were the focus of assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy Kathy Martinez’s remarks to the board members of the Pennsylvania Statewide Independent Living Council and other representatives of the disability community at a gathering on January 16 in Harrisburg, PA. Martinez addressed topics including the Affordable Care Act, Executive Order 13548 (Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities), changes to the regulations for Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, and resources available from the Office of Disability Employment Policy.

Helping the Federal Workforce Reflect the Citizenry It Serves — Assistant Secretary Martinez’s Blog

In a post on the U.S. Department of Labor’s blog, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy Kathy Martinez discussed employment of people with disabilities in the federal sector, focusing on the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) as a pipeline to bring talented college students and recent graduates with disabilities into public service.

Assistant Secretary Martinez Discusses Workforce Development and Economic Development in Fedcap Blog

Assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy Kathy Martinez, in a Fedcap blog, answered questions about the workforce development system, youth transition, myths and stereotypes about people with disabilities, and a wide range of other topics related to disability employment. Fedcap is a nonprofit organization that develops solutions that help people surmount barriers, work toward economic independence, and effect change in their families and communities.

Fact Sheet on Section 503 and VEVRAA Tools Now Available from the Employer Assistance and Resource Network

The Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN) has released a fact sheet on the changes to the regulations for Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA). The fact sheet helps federal contractors quickly and easily identify valuable resources for updating their recruitment, hiring, and employment practices to comply with the new regulations.

Employer Assistance and Resource Network Releases New Reports from the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development

The Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN) released two new reports on disability employment that were written by researchers from the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development. The research was produced under the auspices of the National Technical Assistance, Policy, and Research Center for Employers on Employment of People with Disabilities and funded by a cooperative agreement from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy to Cornell University. One of the reports looks at states as model employers of people with disabilities, while the other examines advancing economic opportunities for business owners and job seekers with disabilities.

At the National Assessment Governing Board Education Summit for Parent Leaders, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan urged parents to push for higher standards for their children (January 23, 2014)

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Thanks, David, for that warm introduction, and for all your leadership. I’m delighted to see leaders whose work has been so important to empowering parents: Otha Thornton of the National PTA; Janet Murguía of the National Council of La Raza; Marc Morial of the National Urban League; and Kati Haycock of The Education Trust.

But, just like me, they all came here as part of their day job. I want to give a special shout-out to the many parent leaders here. You have taken time out of your busy lives to come to Washington, to think about how you, other parents, and your communities can improve education. That means a lot, and I want you to know the story behind this event.

In 2009, President Obama met with President Lee of South Korea, and asked him about his biggest challenge in education. President Lee answered without hesitation: parents in South Korea were “too demanding.” Even his poorest parents demanded a world-class education for their children, and he was having to spend millions of dollars each year to teach English to students in first grade, because his parents won’t let him wait until second grade. President Lee was very serious. Korean parents were relentless and had the highest of expectations—insisting their children receive an excellent education.

I told that story when I spoke to the National Assessment Governing Board a couple of years ago, and said that I wished our biggest challenge here in the US was too many parents demanding excellent schools. Well, David and his fellow board member Tonya Miles took me seriously. They invited you—parents, leaders in your communities, people who care so much about education—to come together and raise your voices for better schools and increased educational opportunity.

I’m so grateful that all of you are here. As you think about how to use your voice, your time, and your energy, I want to pose one simple question to you: Does a child in South Korea deserve a better education than your child? If your answer is no—that no child in America deserves any less than a world-class education —then your work is cut out for you.

Because right now, South Korea—and quite a few other countries—are offering students more, and demanding more, than many American districts and schools do. And the results are showing, in our kids’ learning and in their opportunities to succeed, and in staggeringly large achievement gaps in this country.

Doing something about our underperformance will mean raising your voice—and encouraging parents who aren’t as engaged as you to speak up.

Parents have the power to challenge educational complacency here at home. Parents have the power to ask more of their leaders—and to ask more of their kids, and themselves. And all of those will be vital in a time when we are losing ground.

It’s not that we are failing to make progress in the U.S. For example, last year, math and reading scores for fourth- and eighth-graders edged up to a new high on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Dropout rates are down and college-going is up, especially for African-American and Latino students. This is real and meaningful progress.

But, as we saw last month on a major international assessment of the skills of 15-year-olds—the PISA exam—other countries are progressing much faster, leaving us behind.

In today’s knowledge-based, global economy, jobs will go, more and more, to the best-educated workforce. That will either be here, or it will be in places like South Korea, Singapore, China, and India. Let’s look at the facts. Your children aren’t competing just with children in your district, or state—they are competing with children across the world.

America now ranks 22nd in math skills and 14th in reading among industrialized countries—and our achievement gaps are not narrowing. Now, some would like you to believe that our mediocre achievement results are due just to the presence of large numbers of low-income and minority students in the US—that without them, we’d be the world leaders.

Not true. That’s an excuse.

While we’ve been treading water, other countries have moved ahead. Just one generation ago, we were Number 1 in the world in college completion among young adults. Today, we have dropped to Number 12 in the world. Dropping from 1st to 12th—that’s not something any of us can be proud of.

President Obama has set regaining world leadership in college completion as our educational North Star. That Number 1 spot is now occupied by—guess who?—South Korea. So, you may be asking: What are countries like South Korea doing for their kids that we aren’t? The answer is, a lot.

There’s a new book out called “The Smartest Kids in the World, and How They Got That Way.” The author, Amanda Ripley, found an interesting way to compare American schools with those in top-performing countries. She spent time with American students who did a year of school abroad, and with students from other countries who went to school in the United States.

One of the countries she compares us to is South Korea.

Amanda came away believing that these other countries are doing a lot better than the United States in education because—simply put—they’re more serious about it. And that seriousness, that sense of educational purpose, has its roots in both policy and in culture.

On the policy side, as one example, Korea is serious about developing and rewarding great teachers. That means recruiting top college graduates into teaching, training them effectively for the job, and making sure vulnerable students have strong teachers.

Both South Korean and US citizens believe that the caliber of teacher matters tremendously, and the great teachers make a huge difference in children’s lives. The difference is: they act on their belief. We don’t. We talk the talk, and they walk the walk.

In the United States, a significant proportion of new teachers come from the bottom third of their college class, and most new teachers say their training didn’t prepare them for the realities of the classroom. So underprepared teachers enter our children’s classrooms every year, and low-income and minority kids get far more than their share of ineffective teachers.

In contrast, in South Korea, elementary teachers are selected from the top 5 percent of their high school cohort. Teachers there get six months of training after they start their jobs. They are paid well, and the best receive bonus pay and designation as “master teachers.”

And please, listen very closely to this: in Korea, according to an international study, students from low-income families are actually more likely than students from rich families to have high quality teachers. Students from low-income families are actually more likely than students from rich families to have high quality teachers.

Why? Because teachers get extra pay and career rewards for working with the neediest kids. Their children who need more, get more. Our children who need more get less.

And it’s not just about teachers.

Many countries that outdo us educationally hold high standards for all students—an area where we’re just trying to come up to speed.

South Korea isn’t a standout in providing public preschool, but many of the other countries that also out-educate us help kids start strong, by making sure they can attend preschool. We have to expand access to high quality early learning here.

And they know that they have to give their schools modern tools—including high-speed Internet. In Korea, 100 percent of students have access to broadband Internet. Here in the United States, it’s more like 20 percent.

Let me be clear: I’m not saying we should be just like South Korea, where—as President Lee told President Obama—the pressure to study can get out of hand. In her book, Amanda Ripley talks about how Korean authorities have to enforce a 10 pm curfew on extra-tutoring schools, and students so exhausted that they wear napping pillows on their wrists in school.

We absolutely shouldn’t aim to emulate all aspects of Korea’s education system—there should be a sense of balance and common sense. But we need to act on what we know about countries that are out-educating us—and your role as parent leaders is vital.

Amanda Ripley’s most intriguing point—maybe her most unsettling point—isn’t just about schools, it’s about culture, too. It’s about what we as a country, and as parents, expect of our children.

The high-performing countries she looked at set high standards for what students should learn, and measured mastery with tests that mattered.

In too many schools with low expectations here in the United States, everyone who comes to school passes, because, she writes, “kids deserved a chance to fail later, not now.”

Repeatedly, she found that school in the United States was simply easier than in higher-performing countries. That’s a point that was echoed, with devastating clarity, at a panel she moderated recently with me and a group of foreign exchange students from Korea, Brazil, Germany and Australia. Some of them were going to really strong high schools here in the United States—but they all said that school here was easier than at home.

Four teenagers, from four different countries, and all said they were challenged more back home.

And Amanda points a finger at you and me, as parents—not because we aren’t involved in school, but because too often, we are involved in the wrong way. Parents, she says, are happy to show up at sports events, video camera in hand, and they’ll come to school to protest a bad grade. But she writes, and I quote:

“Parents did not tend to show up at schools demanding that their kids be assigned more challenging reading or that their kindergartners learn math while they still loved numbers.”

Here’s her point: We love going to our kids’ games and seeing them perform on stage in a play or in a concert. Parents who volunteer and raise money are the lifeblood of schools—especially those that are stretched for resources. But to really help our kids, we have to do so much more as parents. We have to change expectations about how hard kids should work. And we have to work with teachers and leaders to create schools that demand more from our kids.

I know I’m preaching to the choir here today. You’re here because you’re committed to raising your voice. But you’re also a leader of other parents. And this is a singularly important moment. So let me speak to you as parent leaders, and leaders of parents, because you have the power to drive change. Don’t ever underestimate the power of your collective voice.

America’s schools are undergoing some of the greatest changes in decades right now. Forty-five states and DC have adopted new, higher, internationally-benchmarked standards for what students should learn—standards that call for more critical thinking and deeper problem solving.

Most school systems will give a dry run this year to new assessments that measure mastery of those standards. These assessments are better than what you’ve seen in the past, but there’s a reason for the dry run. The new assessments will be taken on line, and I can guarantee you there will be technical glitches, as well as some questions that won’t make it past this “field test” stage.

Teachers are working really hard to come up to speed with these new standards, which are driving big—and positive—changes in the classroom. Schools are putting new systems in place to use data on students’ growth and improvements in learning to support and evaluate teachers, which is a really good thing for the teaching profession—but it also causes anxiety.

Great teaching matters tremendously—we have to get better at recognizing and rewarding excellence.

Every part of this sea-change in the classroom is about schools expecting more of students, helping teachers be more creative, telling the truth about our performance, and improving teaching and learning. It’s about giving our kids a fair chance to succeed, to compete, to become part of the middle class—to do better than you and I did. Our children deserve the best—we have to stop settling for less.

These changes are hard. They’re controversial. And your support can make so much difference.

Take, for example, what’s happening in Louisville, Kentucky. The transition to higher standards is going well there, and parents are a huge part of why.

The 15th District PTA began training parents on the state’s new, high standards there in 2011, holding workshops at 36 schools, 42 community groups, and every single library in Louisville. They reached over 15,000 parents and community members face-to-face. And, in part because these new standards are more rigorous, the PTA sponsors an afterschool assistance program at Middletown Elementary where teachers volunteer and parents provide support. That’s the kind of engagement, communication, and academic enrichment we need in communities across the country.

Your voice matters, too, in how schools handle discipline.

Last week, Attorney General Holder and I announced new guidelines aimed at reducing inappropriate suspensions and expulsions. Too often, students—and disproportionately, students of color and those with disabilities—are put out of school for relatively minor infractions. That discrimination that still exists today in too many of our schools and districts is unacceptable and must be challenged by all of us.

Please, work with educators to support them in setting high expectations for appropriate behavior and safety at school—and to fight back against unnecessary out-of-school discipline. You can learn more at our ed.gov website.

What we, as parents, do now matters so much. Please raise your voice for excellence—and against complacency. Organize other parents. Ask your political and school system leaders what they’re doing to support higher standards, to improve teaching, and how you can partner with them in this difficult, but critically-important work. Ask the hard questions, even when it means shaking things up and challenging the status quo.

And—regardless of politics or ideology—in the voting booth, cast your ballot in local, state, and national elections for those who will invest in education—in quality preschool, in college opportunities that families can afford, in schools that offer more to your kids. Every politician says they are pro-education—but how many get beyond the platitudes and easy sound bites, and actually walk the walk? The answer is not enough—but it’s our fault, not theirs, because we don’t hold them accountable.

Collectively, parents have the power to transform educational opportunity in this country. We must stop fighting the wrong fights and unite against our common enemy—and that’s academic failure.

Thank you so much for what you have done and, more importantly, thank you for what I know you will do going forward.

I look forward to your questions

Federal Transit Authority Offers Guidance on its Urbanized Area Formula Program; Covers Services to Low-Income Populations, Defines “Disability” and “Senior” (January 16, 2014)

Friday, January 17th, 2014

This week, FTA published Circular 9030.1E, which will help recipients of Section 5307 Urbanized Area Formula Program funding better understand and comply with changes brought about by MAP-21, the most recent transportation authorizing legislation. The following press release was issued from the Federal Transit Authority:

Summary:
FTA Circular 9030.1E—Urbanized Area Formula Program

Circular 9030.1E is the final program guidance on the implementation of MAP-21 for FTA’s Urbanized Area Formula Program. The revised circular addresses the repeal of FTA’s former SAFETEA-LU programs and the implementation of programs newly established or modified by MAP-21. The largest of FTA’s grant programs, this program provides grants to urbanized areas to support public transportation. Funding is distributed by formula based on the level of transit service provision, population, and other factors. Total funding is $4.9 billion in FY 2013 and $5 billion in FY 2014 (including the Growing States and High Density States formula).

The program remains largely unchanged with a few notable exceptions:

• Job access and reverse commute activities now eligible
Activities eligible under the former Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) program, which focused on providing services to low-income individuals to access jobs, are now eligible under the Urbanized Area Formula program. This includes operating assistance, with a 50 percent local match for job access and reverse commute activities. In addition, the urbanized area formula for distributing funds now includes the number of low-income individuals as a factor. There is no floor or ceiling on the amount of funds that can be spent on job access and reverse commute activities.

• Expanded eligibility for operating expenses for systems with 100 or fewer buses
MAP-21 expands eligibility for using Urbanized Area Formula funds for operating expenses. Previously, only urbanized areas with populations below 200,000 were eligible to use Federal transit funding for operating expenses. Now, systems operating 100 or fewer buses in fixed-route service during peak service hours may use up to 75 percent of their “attributable share” of funding for operating expenses.

• New takedowns for passenger ferry grants and state safety oversight
The apportionment process now sets aside $30 million per year for a discretionary public transportation ferry program. The apportionment process also sets aside a percentage of the apportionment for state safety oversight organizations for the oversight of rail public transportation systems.

Office of Disability Employment Policy Newsletter (January 17, 2014)

Friday, January 17th, 2014

For more information on any of the following articles, go to www.dol.gov/odep.

Job Accommodation Network Offers Free Federal Contractor Webcast Training Series

The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) will provide three free 1.5 hour training sessions in its 2014 Federal Contractor Winter Webcast Series. In March 2014, OFCCP’s new Section 503 regulations will take affect for thousands of federal contractors and subcontractors. This webcast series will provide an overview of the basic requirements, practical tips for compliance, best practices for affirmative action, and time for participants’ questions and answers. All webcasts begin at 2:00 PM EST and continue for 1.5 hours. The first session, Section 503 Basics and Practical Tips, will be held on January 29. You must register to attend.

Employer Assistance and Resource Network Issues January 2014 Newsletter

In its January 2014 newsletter, the Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN) covers issues including National Mentoring Month, federal hiring of people with disabilities, and the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP). The WRP database of college students and recent graduates with disabilities is now open to employers who are interested in hiring interns or permanent employees, and EARN can facilitate that process.

“Disclosing Disability: What You Need to Know” Webinar Now Archived

The archived webinar “Disclosing Disability: What You Need to Know” is available for viewing on the website of the Employer Assistance and Resource Network. The webinar, aimed at jobseekers, employees, and employers, was co-sponsored by the Office of Disability Employment Policy, the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth, the Job Accommodation Network, and the Higher Education Recruitment Consortium.

SAMHSA Offers BRSS TACS Policy Academy Awards to Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Agencies

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has announced the 2014 Bringing Recovery Supports to Scale Technical Assistance Center Strategy (BRSS TACS) Policy Academy Awards, “Supporting Recovery through Expanding Opportunities for Employment.” The purpose of the BRSS TACS Policy Academy Awards is to assist State, Territory, and Tribal Government substance use disorder and mental health agencies in designing and implementing strategic policies, practices, financing mechanisms, and infrastructure improvements to promote the implementation of recovery-oriented supports, services, and systems. In particular, the 2014 BRSS TACS Policy Academy Awards will focus on increasing employment opportunities for individuals with mental health and substance use conditions. An informational webinar for the BRSS TACS Policy Academy Awards will be held on January 21, 2014, 3:00-4:00 PM EST. During this webinar, SAMHSA staff and BRSS TACS team members will explain the BRSS TACS virtual Policy Academy, the subcontract awards, and expectations for applicants. Applications are due by 5:00 PM EST on February 10.

AAPD Summer Internship Program Applications Due February 5, 2014

The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) has announced its Summer Internship Program. The program is open to college students, graduate students, recent graduates (within one year), or veterans who self-identify as an individual with any type of disability. AAPD’s Summer Internship Program provides the opportunity to gain hands-on professional experience to help advance program participants’ career goals while interning in Washington, DC. Interns will receive a stipend, mentor matching, and additional resources during the summer. Candidates interested in the professional arena of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and veterans with disabilities are highly encouraged to apply. Applications are due by 5:00 PM EST on February 5.

Memorandum of Understanding Between U.S. Office of Special Counsel And Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (January 2014)

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC or party) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC or party) first entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in February 1988 to further the objectives of Congress under the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, as amended, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended and related Executive Orders, to eradicate prohibited discrimination in personnel decisions in the federal workforce. This MOU promotes interagency coordination between the OSC and the EEOC in the enforcement of anti-discrimination laws and provides for information sharing as appropriate and to the extent allowable under law. This MOU is also entered into pursuant to the provisions of 29 C.F.R. § 1614.503(f). This MOU supersedes the February 1988 MOU.

1. It is hereby agreed between the EEOC and the OSC that the EEOC shall refer to OSC for potential OSC enforcement action cases in which the EEOC finds that an agency or an officer or employee thereof has discriminated against any employee or applicant for employment in violation of section 717 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16); sections 12 and 15 of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (29 U.S.C. §§ 631, 633a); section 6(d) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. § 206(d)); or section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. § 791). In addition, EEOC shall refer to OSC for potential enforcement action cases in which the agency fails to comply with the order of the EEOC and any other case or matter that the Commission believes warrants enforcement by OSC.

2. In transmitting information to OSC under paragraph 1, above, the EEOC shall inform OSC of the status of any action ordered or recommended to the employing agency by the EEOC, including particularly any reason the employing agency has provided for its failure or refusal to comply with the Commission’s order.

3. If the EEOC has indicated that appropriate action has not and will not be taken by the employing agency, OSC may investigate the matter under 5 U.S.C. § 1214 or § 1216 to the extent necessary to determine whether there is sufficient basis for initiating disciplinary action under 5 U.S.C. § 1215. The determination as to whether a matter has prosecutive merit and will be prosecuted before the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) shall be within the sole discretion of OSC.

4. In order to aid OSC’s consideration of an EEOC referral, EEOC shall make available to OSC all information and evidentiary materials pertaining to the referred matter which are held by EEOC, subject to any legal impediments (if any) to the disclosure to OSC of any such materials.

5. OSC shall notify EEOC in cases where OSC initiates disciplinary action.

6. The following offices of the respective agencies are designated to coordinate and implement the provisions of this understanding and agreement:

Director, Office of Federal Operations
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
131 M Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20507

Director, Investigation and Prosecution Division
Office of Special Counsel
1730 M Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036

7. All requests by third parties to this Agreement, including charging parties, respondents, and their attorneys, for disclosure of information shall be coordinated with the agency that initially created or compiled the information (the “originating agency”), unless disclosure is otherwise required by law. The decision of the originating agency regarding disclosure shall be honored, to the extent permissible by law.

8. This Agreement will become effective on the date that the last party signs the agreement. Any party may terminate this Agreement by providing 60-days written notice to the other party.

9. This Agreement is an internal government Agreement between the parties and is not intended to confer any rights upon any private person against the United States, its agencies, or its officers. Nothing in this agreement shall be interpreted as limiting, superseding or otherwise affecting either party’s normal operations or decisions in carrying out its duties. This agreement does not itself authorize the expenditure or reimbursement of any funds. Nothing in this agreement obligates the parties to expend appropriations, enter into any contract or incur any obligations.

10. SIGNATURES

CAROLYN N. LERNER
Special Counsel,
U.S. Office of Special Counsel

JACQUELINE A. BERRIEN
Chair,
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

First Executive Order Issued by New Virginia Governor Requires “Equal Opportunity” in State Government (January 14, 2014)

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Virginia’s Governor McAuliffe issues his first Executive Order, and it focuses on requiring nondiscrimination in employment practices of the Commonwealth of Virginia on the bases of race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, religion, political affiliation, and disability. Moreover, Executive Order Number 1 prohibits discrimination against veterans, and permits “employment preferences for veterans” where appropriate. The Executive Order also promotes affirmative measures to “emphasize the recruitment of qualified minorities, women, disabled persons, and older Virginians to serve at all levels of state government.” Below is the text of the newly-issued Executive Order Number 1 (2014):

Importance of the Initiative

By virtue of the authority vested in me as Governor, I hereby declare that it is the firm and unwavering policy of the Commonwealth of Virginia to assure equal opportunity in all facets of state government. The foundational tenet of this Executive Order is premised upon a steadfast commitment to foster a culture of inclusion, diversity, and mutual respect for all Virginians.

This policy specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, political affiliation, or against otherwise qualified persons with disabilities. The policy permits appropriate employment preferences for veterans and specifically prohibits discrimination against veterans.

State appointing authorities and other management principals are hereby directed to take affirmative measures, as determined by the Director of the Department of Human Resource Management, to emphasize the recruitment of qualified minorities, women, disabled persons, and older Virginians to serve at all levels of state government. This directive does not permit or require the lowering of bona fide job requirements, performance standards, or qualifications to give preference to any state employee or applicant for state employment.

Allegations of violations of this policy shall be brought to the attention of the Office of Equal Employment Services of the Department of Human Resource Management. No state appointing authority, other management principal, or supervisor shall take retaliatory actions against persons making such allegations.

Any state employee found in violation of this policy shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary action.

The Secretary of Administration is directed to review and update annually state procurement, employment, and other relevant policies to ensure compliance with the non-discrimination mandate contained herein, and shall report to the Governor his or her findings together with such recommendations as he or she deems appropriate. The Director of the Department of Human Resource Management shall assist in this review.

This Executive Order supersedes and rescinds Executive Order No. 6 (2010), Equal Opportunity, issued by Governor Robert F. McDonnell on February 5, 2010.

Effective Date of the Executive Order

This Executive Order shall become effective upon its signing and shall remain in full force and effect until amended or rescinded by further executive order.

Given under my hand and under the Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia this 11th day of January 2014.

Terence R. McAuliffe, Governor

New Guidance from Justice and Education: Discipline at Educational Institutions and Discrimination (January 8, 2014)

Monday, January 13th, 2014

The U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice issued joint guidance designed to help educational institutions develop policies and procedures for discipline that comply with applicable federal civil rights laws.

The January 8, 2014 press release:

The U.S. Department of Education (ED), in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), today released a school discipline guidance package that will assist states, districts and schools in developing practices and strategies to enhance school climate, and ensure those policies and practices comply with federal law. Even though incidents of school violence have decreased overall, too many schools are still struggling to create positive, safe environments. Schools can improve safety by making sure that climates are welcoming and that responses to misbehavior are fair, non-discriminatory and effective. Each year, significant numbers of students miss class due to suspensions and expulsions—even for minor infractions of school rules—and students of color and with disabilities are disproportionately impacted. The guidance package provides resources for creating safe and positive school climates, which are essential for boosting student academic success and closing achievement gaps.

“Effective teaching and learning cannot take place unless students feel safe at school,”U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “Positive discipline policies can help create safer learning environments without relying heavily on suspensions and expulsions. Schools also must understand their civil rights obligations and avoid unfair disciplinary practices. We need to keep students in class where they can learn. These resources are a step in the right direction.”

The resource package consists of four components:

The Dear Colleague guidance letter on civil rights and discipline, prepared in conjunction with DOJ, describes how schools can meet their legal obligations under federal law to administer student discipline without discriminating against students on the basis of race, color or national origin;

The Guiding Principles document draws from emerging research and best practices to describe three key principles and related action steps that can help guide state and local efforts to improve school climate and school discipline;

The Directory of Federal School Climate and Discipline Resources indexes the extensive federal technical assistance and other resources related to school discipline and climate available to schools and districts; and

The Compendium of School Discipline Laws and Regulations, an online catalogue of the laws and regulations related to school discipline in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, compares laws across states and jurisdictions.

“A routine school disciplinary infraction should land a student in the principal’s office, not in a police precinct,”Attorney General Eric Holder said. “This guidance will promote fair and effective disciplinary practices that will make schools safe, supportive and inclusive for all students. By ensuring federal civil rights protections, offering alternatives to exclusionary discipline and providing useful information to school resource officers, we can keep America’s young people safe and on the right path.”

The guidance package is a resource resulting from a collaborative project—the Supportive School Discipline Initiative (SSDI)—between ED and DOJ. The SSDI, launched in 2011, addresses the school-to-prison pipeline and the disciplinary policies and practices that can push students out of school and into the justice system. The initiative aims to support instead school discipline practices that foster safe, inclusive and positive learning environments while keeping students in school. The Department of Justice enforces Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race or national origin in public schools, and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin by schools, law enforcement agencies, and other recipients of federal financial assistance.

The guidance package also results from President Obama’s Now is the Time proposal to reduce gun violence. It called on ED to collect and disseminate best practices on school discipline policies and to help school districts develop and equitably implement their policies. To both continue ED/DOJ efforts in connection with SSDI and fulfill the administration’s commitment to “Now is the Time,” the guidance package was developed with additional input from civil rights advocates, major education organizations and philanthropic partners.

To view the resource documents, visit www.ed.gov/school-discipline.

An excerpt from the introduction to the joint “Dear Colleague” letter

The U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice (Departments) are issuing this guidance to assist public elementary and secondary schools in meeting their obligations under Federal law to administer student discipline without discriminating on the basis of race, color, or national origin. The Departments recognize the commitment and effort of educators across the United States to provide their students with an excellent education. The Departments believe that guidance on how to identify, avoid, and remedy discriminatory discipline will assist schools in providing all students with equal educational opportunities.

The Departments strongly support schools in their efforts to create and maintain safe and orderly educational environments that allow our nation’s students to learn and thrive. Many schools have adopted comprehensive, appropriate, and effective programs demonstrated to: (1) reduce disruption and misconduct; (2) support and reinforce positive behavior and character development; and (3) help students succeed. Successful programs may incorporate a wide range of strategies to reduce misbehavior and maintain a safe learning environment, including conflict resolution, restorative practices, counseling, and structured systems of positive interventions. The Departments recognize that schools may use disciplinary measures as part of a program to promote safe and orderly educational environments.

Regardless of the program adopted, Federal law prohibits public school districts from discriminating in the administration of student discipline based on certain personal characteristics. The Department of Justice (DOJ) is responsible for enforcing Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title IV), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000c et seq., which prohibits discrimination in public elementary and secondary schools based on race, color, or national origin, among other bases. The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the DOJ have responsibility for enforcing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000d et seq., and its implementing regulations, 34 C.F.R. Part 100, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin by recipients of Federal financial assistance. Specifically, OCR enforces Title VI with respect to schools and other recipients of Federal financial assistance from the Department of Education.

The Departments initiate investigations of student discipline policies and practices at particular schools based on complaints the Departments receive from students, parents, community members, and others about possible racial discrimination in student discipline. The Departments also may initiate investigations based on public reports of racial disparities in student discipline combined with other information, or as part of their regular compliance monitoring activities.

This guidance will help public elementary and secondary schools administer student discipline in a manner that does not discriminate on the basis of race. Federal law also prohibits discriminatory discipline based on other factors, including disability, religion, and sex. Those prohibitions are not specifically addressed in this guidance because they implicate separate statutes and sometimes different legal analyses (although this guidance applies to race discrimination against all students, including students of both sexes and students with disabilities). Schools are reminded, however, that they must ensure that their discipline policies and practices comply with all applicable constitutional requirements and Federal laws, including civil rights statutes and regulations.

Office of Disability Employment Policy Newsletter (January 10, 2014)

Friday, January 10th, 2014

For more information on any of the following articles, go to www.dol.gov/odep.

CMS Issues Final Rule on Home and Community-Based Services

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has published a final rule that offers states new flexibilities in providing necessary and appropriate services to elderly and disabled populations on a more individualized basis. Authorized through section 2402 of the Affordable Care Act, the regulation outlines the optional state plan benefit to furnish home and community-based state plan services and draw federal matching funds. As a result, states will be able to design and tailor Medicaid services to better accommodate individual needs. The final rule includes other changes to the HCBS waiver provisions to convey expectations regarding person-centered plans of care, to provide characteristics of settings that are home and community-based as well as settings that may not be home and community-based, to clarify the timing of amendments and public input requirements when states propose modifications to HCBS waiver programs and service rates, and describes strategies state Medicaid systems can pursue to make sure that aging citizens and individuals with disabilities are supported in the most integrated setting possible.

EARN Publishes Guide on Effective Hiring Practices for Federal Employers

The Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN) has published “Disability is Diversity: Effective Hiring Practices for Federal Employers.” This research-to-practice brief first discusses diversity initiatives and requirements unique to the federal government. It then reviews relevant research to provide recommendations to federal employers in their continuing effort to recruit and promote employees with disabilities.

Bureau of Labor Statistics Releases the Occupational Outlook Handbook

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics has released the 2014-15 edition of the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH). The OOH, one of the nation’s most widely used career information resources, includes details about work activities, wages, education and training requirements, the job outlook, and more for 580 occupations in 334 profiles.

Career Mentoring Youth with Disabilities as a Business Strategy

As a guest blogger on Disability.Blog, the official blog of Disability.gov, Jill Houghton, executive director of the US Business Leadership Network, posted “Career Mentoring Youth with Disabilities as a Business Strategy.” She discussed the benefits of mentoring programs for both youth with disabilities and the businesses involved, as evidenced by the success of programs like Disability Mentoring Day, the Workforce Recruitment Program’s pilot mentoring program, and the Career Link Mentoring Program.

Bureau of Labor Statistics Issues Youth Employment Rate Numbers for December 2013

Employment data for youth with and without disabilities is obtained from the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly survey of households conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Office of Disability Employment Policy: Healthy Transitions Brief (January 8, 2014)

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

The following “Dear Colleague” letter was just issued by Assistant Secretary Martinez of the Labor Department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy. For more information, go to www.dol.gov/odep.

Dear Colleague:

I am writing to let you know about a new study on health care transition and employment just released by my office, the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP).

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 56.7 million (1 in 5) individuals of all ages, races, ethnicities, socioeconomic status, and educational attainment in the United States live with at least one disability. Included within this population are people with high-prevalence chronic health conditions such as diabetes, asthma, chronic pulmonary disease, and obesity; less-common disorders historically considered “childhood conditions” such as cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, sickle cell anemia, and spina bifida; and other chronic conditions such as HIV/AIDS. Every year at least 500,000 to 750,000 young people with special health care issues become adults. Many of these youth have multiple conditions.

Because the ability to manage one’s health is critical to going to school, learning, and transitioning into employment, in 2012 ODEP commissioned this study to better understand the relationship between disability (including chronic health conditions); health and wellness; and transition and employment outcomes for youth with disabilities. In addition, the study examined the role health care providers play in establishing employment expectations.

Despite growing recognition of the importance of health care transition in the overall transition from school to work and independent living within the health care community, the study revealed that youth with chronic health conditions and other disabilities face a number of challenges in accessing health care transition services. Included among these are low expectations, lack of time, and inadequate payment and training related to employment among providers; systems with distinct and disparate outcomes and goals, and the application of a biological/physiological versus bio-psychosocial treatment approach. In addition to explaining how a number of provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have significant potential to transform health care transition planning, the study addresses the need to:

• underscore the interdependence between health and wellness, and employment through education and outreach to youth and their parents and other caring adults; and
• provide health-care providers and other youth service professionals with professional development opportunities to gain the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to guide youth through a coordinated self-determined, cross-discipline transition planning process.

To learn more about the challenges and opportunities associated with implementing purposeful planned health care transition planning and its impact on employment for youth with chronic health conditions and other disabilities, view the full policy brief at: http://www.dol.gov/odep/pdf/2013ODEPHealthyReport.pdf.

Sincerely,

Kathy Martinez
Assistant Secretary of Office of
Disability Employment Policy
U.S. Department of Labor