Benchmark Institute is a training and performance development organization dedicated to increasing the quality and quantity of legal services to low-income communities.
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U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights
OCR resolves complaints alleging discrimination based on race, color, national origin (limited English proficiency) sex, age or disability against public and private schools receiving federal money. OCR does not handle complaints involving religion. For a complaint form or advice call (415) 556-4275, or contact

California Department of Education (CDE)

Special Education complaints

Complaints involving English Language Learners must first be filed with the local school district. After 60 days one may appeal to the Categorical Program Complaint Management Unit (916) 319-0929 at the California Dept of Education. The Uniform Complaint Procedure for CDE is at

California Department of Fair Employment and Housing
Enforces California State Anti- Discrimination Laws. Handles complaints involving religious discrimination, race, color, national origin, sex and sexual orientation. 800/884 1684.

Center for Law and Education

As a national support center, CLE has developed enormous expertise about the legal rights and responsibilities of students and school personnel as well as about key education programs and initiatives, including Title I, vocational education programs and school to work systems, and special education for students with disabilities. CLE can help on a wide range of interconnected issues, including:

Standards-based reform.
CLE has taken a leading role in reshaping Title I to become the largest single source of assistance in the country for reforming schools to enable all children to meet high standards -- addressing everything from development of standards and assessments to implementation of accelerated curriculum, intensive staff development, assistance to individual students, funding allocations, and program improvement for schools making inadequate progress. Following this legislative success, our national Title I and School Reform project is working on the difficult task of actual implementation, helping groups use Title I and other federal and state standards-based reforms as tools for community-based school change, including intensive assistance in urban sites such as Chicago and Milwaukee.
National Title I and School Reform Advocacy Project

High school restructuring (including vocational reform).
More than a decade ago, we began advocating for vocational reforms which would help end, rather than exacerbate, tracking of some students into programs with lower academic content and limited career potential -- culminating in a completely redirected Perkins Vocational Education Act in 1990 and the School-to-Work Opportunities Act in 1994. At the same time, our Vocational Opportunity for Community and Educational Development (VOCED) project has worked in school districts such as Oakland, Richmond, Boston, Cambridge, and Chicago to help create programs that are high quality, equitably serve all students, engage the community in program development, and engage teachers and students in community development. As the primary subcontractor for the Office of Vocational and Adult Education's New Urban High School initiative, CLE now works with several schools that are uniting school-to-career principles with schoolwide high school reform -- e.g., through the creation of thematically different, but academically equivalent smaller subschools. High School Reform, Including School-to-Work

Implementation and enforcement of the rights of students with disabilities.
Throughout its history, CLE has been a recognized leader in advancing the rights of students with disabilities -- again from federal policy through state and local implementation. As one of the few national organizations that is firmly rooted in both disability rights and school reform, CLE has focused increasingly on bringing the two together -- in order to help ensure, for example, that individualized education programs, assessment practices, etc. are aimed at ensuring that students with disabilities meet high standards, rather than being vehicles for lower expectations. Educational Rights of Students with Disabilities Project

Parent and community involvement.
We have consistently taken the lead in pushing federal policy to strengthen parent and community involvement in Title I, school-to-work, and other major programs, and in training parents across the country to use those tools. In 1994, we augmented our capacity to do so by absorbing the former National Committee on Citizens in Education, a major resource on parent involvement issues. We have recently launched Community Action for Public Schools, to help parents, educators, and advocates link together and improve their capacity to work for the right of all children, and low-income children in particular, to high-quality education. We bring this focus to our project sites as well, where we often work to develop stronger parent involvement policies.

Other. CLE has done extensive work in a number of other areas, such as early intervention, school discipline, rights of court-involved youth, programming for limited-English-proficient students, education of homeless children, and access to higher education.

CLE can help with these topics in a number of ways, including: (1) training of parents, students, community members, and educators; (2) assistance to attorneys and advocates representing students and parents; (3) policy analysis and policy drafting (combining our legal and educational expertise); (4) staff development; (5) assistance in dealing with state and federal policy-makers; (6) access to, and assistance in using, our extensive publications on program implementation in these areas (such as our implementation and advocacy guides on Title I, the School-to-Work Opportunities Act, and other programs); (7) access to other resources around the country, including schools, exemplary programs, researchers, and advocates. Some of these services are available to CAPS members, while others may be available through our projects, or in some cases on a fee-for-service basis.

Language Rights
High Stakes Testing
Gender Issues
No Child Left Behind
Students With Disabilities
Migrant Education
Homeless Student Education
School Reform
School Discipline
Immigrant Issues
Charter Schools
Runaway Teens