New Data Show Secretary DeVos’ Reforms to the Office for Civil Rights are Driving Better Results for Students

News Release, US Department of Education

WASHINGTON—The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education released new data today that show 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. In fact, OCR has, on average, resolved almost double the number of civil rights complaints per year compared to the prior eight fiscal years. Additionally, OCR has achieved a 60% increase in the number of complaint resolutions that required schools to make changes to protect students’ civil rights.

“From day one, our approach has been clear and unwavering: vigorously enforce civil rights laws, treat students as individuals, and resolve cases both efficiently and effectively,” said Secretary DeVos. “The backlog of cases we inherited should have troubled everyone, as we know justice delayed is justice denied. While many have tried to distort the nature of our approach, the numbers don’t lie. Our approach has been more effective at supporting students and delivering meaningful results.”

By the numbers:

  • In FY 2017 and 2018, OCR resolved, on average, 16,000 complaints per year compared to an average of 8,200 complaint resolutions per year under the previous administration
  • In the last two years, OCR has seen a 60% increase over the previous eight years in the annual number of complaint resolutions requiring a school to make a substantive change to protect students’ civil rights, including:
  • A 30% increase in Title VI (race/national origin) resolutions requiring corrective action from a school
    • A 60% increase in the number of disability-related resolutions requiring corrective action
    • An 80% increase in Title IX (sex discrimination) case resolutions requiring corrective action
  • In 2018 alone, OCR resolved nearly as many sexual violence complaints that required corrective action to protect students’ civil rights as the prior administration resolved in all eight years combined
  • In FY 2017 and 2018, OCR resolved 31 complaints annually per full-time staff compared to only 14.5 complaints annually per full-time staff during the previous eight years
  • In FY 2017 and 2018, OCR resolved, on average, 3,297 more complaints annually than it received. In the eight fiscal years prior, OCR resolved, on average, 1,262 fewer complaints than it received, which resulted in the current administration inheriting more than 7,800 unresolved cases

“We are reorienting OCR to a neutral, impartial law enforcement agency and that is having tremendous, positive impacts on America’s students and their families,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Kenneth L. Marcus. “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.”

The mission of OCR is to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation through the vigorous enforcement of civil rights. OCR primarily carries out its enforcement responsibilities by investigating and resolving individual complaints filed with the Department of Education. A complaint of discrimination can be filed by anyone who believes that an educational institution that receives federal financial assistance has discriminated against someone on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age. The person or organization filing the complaint need not be a victim of the alleged discrimination but may complain on behalf of another person or group.