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Data Show More Student Civil Rights Complaints Resolved Under DeVos

New data released by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Education show that students who filed civil rights complaints under Secretary Betsy Devos’ tenure have been served more efficiently and effectively that those who filed complaints under the Obama administration.

According to the data, during the fiscal years 2017 and 2018, the Trump administration’s OCR resolved an average of 16,000 complaints per year, nearly double the average 8,200 complaint resolutions that took place under the prior administration. 

Furthermore, in the last two years, data shows that OCR has seen a 60 percent increase in the annual number of complaint resolutions that require a school to make substantial changes to protect the civil rights of their students, compared to the previous eight years. 

Some believe these numbers speak to the new approach that the Trump administration has taken to civil rights enforcement, which has included rewriting the rules for civil rights investigators to narrow the scope of investigations, as well as decreasing the backlog of complaints the administration inherited. 

“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,” Kenneth L. Marcus, assistant secretary for civil rights, said in a statement. “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.”

However, others have cautioned against using speed as a measurement of progress, especially since cases that were completely dismissed or never opened could technically count as being resolved. 

“It’s obviously important to resolve cases as quickly as possible, but it’s also incredibly important to actually investigate them and ensure appropriate results,” Catherine Lhamon, who led the civil rights office during the Obama administration, told Politico. “A speedy and shoddy investigation and resolutions does not provide relief actually to students when they need it.”

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