The number of annual complaints reported to the U.S. Department of Education’s civil rights office has more than doubled in the past eight years, rising from 6,364 in the 2009 fiscal year to 16,720 in 2016. The most common complaint, accounting for 976, was of “different treatment, exclusion or denial of benefits on the basis of sex, race or national origin.” The next most common categories of civil rights complaint were retaliation and racial harassment, accounting for 569 and 548 complaints respectively.
The rights involved are guaranteed by the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibit sex discrimination.
The education department’s report also stated that black preschool children are 3.6 times more likely than white preschool children to get one or more out-of-school suspensions, and students of color are more likely than white students to be in schools where more than 20 percent of teachers are in their first year on the job.
“We thank our school communities for palpable progress toward realizing the promises Congress has made decade after decade to our nation’s students that their educational experiences should be fundamentally equal,” said Catherine Lhamon, the assistant secretary for civil rights in the U.S. Department of Education. “Our investigations confirm [the] ongoing need to safeguard those rights.”
Education Week, Dec. 8