In a letter (PDF) addressed to states, school districts and schools around the country, the U.S. Department of Education warned today that racial disparities in school funding “persist,” and that school districts have a legal responsibility to “provide students with equal access to these resources without regard to race, color, or national origin.”

“Chronic and widespread racial disparities in access to rigorous courses, academic programs, and extracurricular activities; stable workforces of effective teachers, leaders, and support staff; safe and appropriate school buildings and facilities; and modern technology and high-quality instructional materials further hinder the education of students of color today,” the letter reads. The guidance is a follow-up to data the Department of Education released this spring which found ongoing, widespread disparities between affluent and white students and poorer students and students of color, Education Week reported. For example, among schools serving the highest concentrations of black and Latino students, only 66 percent offered chemistry, and only 74 percent offered Algebra 2, according to the letter. 

Those who fail to address these gaps leave themselves to federal investigation. Read the letter in full here (PDF).