Students’ Civil Rights Complaints Being Resolved More Quickly Under The Trump Administration

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Amber Athey Podcast Columnist
Font Size:

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education is resolving more complaints during the Trump administration than under the Obama administration, according to new data released Wednesday.

The OCR is responsible for resolving complaints from students alleging that schools who receive federal assistance violated their civil rights. Such complaints may be related to discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age.

“Students who file civil rights complaints under U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ leadership are served more efficiently and effectively than students who filed civil rights complaints during the previous administration,” a Department of Education press release said. “In fact, OCR has, on average, resolved almost double the number of civil rights complaints per year compared to the prior eight fiscal years.”

OCR resolved an average of 15,935 complaints in fiscal years 2017 and 2018, compared to an average of 8,249 complaints per year under the Obama administration.

Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Kenneth L. Marcus stressed in an interview with the Daily Caller that the office is not merely closing cases for the sake of clearing a backlog; the data also shows that complaint resolutions required schools to take corrective actions 60% more often under Trump than under Obama.

“I think a lot of people are going to be surprised [at the data],” Marcus said.

The OCR attributes its success in closing cases more efficiently and effectively to a new approach put in place by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. The OCR under the Trump administration handles civil rights complaints as a neutral law enforcement body rather than as a political body.

Marcus described the approach as “straight down the middle,” adding that the OCR no longer tries to “turn complaints into a way to seize onto bigger issues.”

“Instead of seeing every case as an opportunity to advance a political agenda, we are focused on the needs of each individual student and on faithfully executing the laws. This is the right thing to do, and the data show it works,” he explained in the DOE’s release.

Sexual assault cases are just one example where the OCR seems to be making progress. DeVos was slammed by liberal opponents prior to her confirmation for advocating due process for individuals accused of sexual assault, but the OCR has resolved nearly as many sexual violence complaints requiring corrective action in 2018 alone as the entire eight years of the Obama presidency. (RELATED: Betsy DeVos Proposes Title IX Rules, Focuses On Clear Definition Of Sexual Harassment And Due Process Rights)

“Trump and DeVos deserve all of the credit,” Marcus told the Caller, applauding their directives to “administer the laws in full” and their “commitment to the rule of law.”

“It’s a strong message and the right message and it’s effective,” he said. “The media misunderstand what it means to follow the law as written.”