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School District Updating Student Race and Ethnicity Data

Each year, every school district in California is required to report the race and ethnicity of each of its students to the California Department of Education (CDE). The state reports school-level data but not individual student information to the federal government.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is changing?

There are new federal requirements about how race and ethnicity data is recorded. Every school district in the United States is required to collect and report the race and ethnicity of students and staff using the categories explained below. Both Question #1 and Question #2 (see below) must be answered for all students and staff. A “declined to report” response is no longer allowed by federal reporting requirements.

Why is this important?

Our schools receive some federal funding based on this information. Race and ethnicity data also is used by the district in developing programs to serve our diverse student population, for civil rights compliance, and more.

Am I required to answer these questions?

The district is required to report race and ethnicity data for all students, but individual families are not required to answer these questions. However, if you do not answer the questions yourself, your student’s records will not accurately reflect his or her identity.

What will happen if I do not provide an answer to these questions?

Under the federal guidelines, we are required to provide an answer on your behalf if you choose not to provide this information about your student(s). We firmly believe that self-identification is the most beneficial option and we are prepared to provide information and support to families and individuals to encourage self-identification.

Will the school release my student’s race and ethnicity information to other parties?

There are no changes to the laws protecting your privacy and your other rights. This information will not be reported to any federal agency in a way that identifies you or your child.

Individual student records are protected by the Federal Education Records and Privacy Act (FERPA). The new race and ethnicity standards have no effect on FERPA’s protection of student records. FERPA does not designate race and ethnicity as directory information, and race and ethnicity have the same privacy protections as any other non-directory information in a student’s education record.

Will the information we provide be used to check our immigration status?

No. This information is maintained in your student’s records and is protected by federal law. It will not be reported to any federal agency in a way that identifies you or your child. No one will check for immigration status from the information you provide here.

How do I know my student won’t be discriminated against?

Under no circumstances will this happen. State and local laws are in place to ensure that racial and ethnic data will not be reported elsewhere in a way that any individual may be identified. The state and districts follow FERPA (Federal Education Records and Privacy Act) rules and regulations to safeguard the privacy of student records. All privacy laws and rules are still in effect.

I am Latino/Hispanic. Why do I have to answer more questions?

The federal government considers “Hispanic/Latino” to be an ethnicity, not a race; this is why Hispanic/Latino is not listed as a race identification category. You will be asked to select one or more races, even if you have indicated that you are Hispanic/Latino. If you answer yes to Question #1, you will be counted as Hispanic/Latino.

Why is “multiracial” not a self-identification option?

There is no “multiracial” self-identification option, but individuals are reported as multiracial if they choose more than one race. The information you provide may help us as a district maintain consistent data, make better educational alignments and obtain appropriate funding levels for specific programs.

How to complete the Race & Ethnicity Information on any form

In order to best reflect the identities of our communities, it is important to understand the way the categories work. Please be thoughtful about the most accurate way to report your identity and/or the identity of your child when choosing the appropriate categories.

There are TWO questions that must be answered for every student and staff member:

Question #1: ETHNICITY Are you Latino or Hispanic? YES or NO

All persons of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin — descended from Central or South American, Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Dominican, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race — should answer YES. All persons answering YES to this first question will be recorded as Latino/Hispanic. All persons are required to answer Question #2 even if they answered YES to Question #1.

Question #2: RACE Please mark all that apply.
You must mark at least one category. Those who choose more than one category will be reported as multiracial.

  • American Indian or Alaska Native
    • U.S.: A person having origins in any of the indigenous peoples of the continental United States or Alaska.
    • Latin America and Canada: A person having origins in any of the indigenous peoples of Canada, Mexico, Central America, South America, or the Caribbean.
  • Asian: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent.
  • Black or African American: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Black racial groups of Africa.
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa or other Pacific Islands.
  • White: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East or North Africa.