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FAQ: Ethnicity & Race

Why am I being asked to report the race and ethnicity of my child?  

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the California Department of Education (CDE) require school districts to collect and report data on ethnicity and race using a two part question.  The first part of the question asks about a ethnicity (Hispanic or Latino) and the second part asks about race (African American/Black, Asian, Native American, white, etc.).   Menlo Park City School District gathers this information as part of the enrollment process to comply with various state and federal laws (e.g. Education Code Sections 60640, 56601 and 56602).  

How should I answer these questions?

Self-identification is the preferred method for collecting this data.  When answering each part of the question, respondents are asked to report whether he/she would consider his/her student Hispanic/Latino by answering ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.  The second part of the question asks respondents about race.  You may select as many of the race categories that you feel apply.  The federal definitions for each category may help in answering these questions.  The definitions are provided below.  

Do I have to answer the race and ethnicity question?   

Yes.  School districts must make every effort to collect and report this data to state and federal agencies.  If you do not answer the question, the MPCSD’s registrar may need contact you to collect the information.  If an answer is still not provided, federal agencies will default to “two or more” race as the identified category.  

How is the information used?

At the federal level, the information is used to ensure compliance with civil rights laws, grants and various programs.  At the state level and local level this information is used as part of our accountability system, California School Dashboard.  

Federal Definitions:


  • Hispanic/Latino - a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.  


  • American Indian or Alaska Native - A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central American), and who maintains a tribal affiliation or community attachment.  
  • Asian - A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Island, Thailand and Vietnam.
  • Black or African American -  A person having origins in any 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 the Pacific Islands
  • White - A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East or North Africa.  

For more information on race and ethnicity collection, please refer to the California Department of Education’s web page.