Complaints Skyrocket at the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education

report-to-president-and-secretary-of-education-2016-copyThe Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education recently released its 2016 annual report. The report states that in the government’s 2016 fiscal year, there were a record 16,720 complaints filed with the Office for Civil Rights. This was a 61 percent increase from 2015.

The largest number of the complaints concerned sexual harassment and most of these involved alleged violations of Title IX provisions relating to equal opportunities for women in athletics programs.

But there were also 2,439 complaints that had to do with issues of race. They made up 15 percent of all complaints filed with the Office for Civil Rights. There were 542 complaints involving allegations of racial harassment. Of these, 198 involved complaints related to racial harassment at colleges and universities. The number of racial harassment complaints relating to postsecondary institutions more than doubled during the eight years of the Obama administration.

Catherine Lhamon PortaitCatherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education, states in the report that “we mark the end of eight productive years in the Obama Administration of securing equal educational opportunity for students. While numbers alone can never tell the full story, the 76,000 complaints we handled, the 66,000 cases we resolved, the more than 5,400 resolution agreements we reached, and the 34 policy guidance documents we issued between 2009 and 2016 speak volumes about ongoing student need and this agency’s service to our school communities.”

Assistant Secretary Lhamon is a summa cum laude graduate of Amherst College in Massachusetts and earned her law degree at Yale.

The full report, Securing Equal Educational Opportunity: Report to the President and Secretary of Education, may be downloaded by clicking here.

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