Civil Rights Complaints at Record High at U.S. Department of Education

by Kristen Pavón

BET reports that civil rights complaints have reached an all-time high and the U.S. Department of Education is busy with investigations across the nation. Just last year, 7,000 complaints were filed with the DOE.

The types of complaints vary, including “failing to provide minority students with access to college- and career-track courses, not assigning ‘highly qualified teachers’ to minority districts, and disproportionately suspending minority students and placing them in special education courses.”

“America has been battling inequity in education for decades but these data show that we cannot let up,” said U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “Children who need the most too often get the least. It’s a civil rights issue, an economic security issue and a moral issue.”

Last year the Office for Civil Rights was criticized by Education Secretary Arnie Duncan that they had not aggressively pursued Title 6 investigations to improve the quality of education for minority and poor students over the last ten years, and this year, the department is seeking to make up for their mistakes.

The DOE has also found that teachers in schools with higher minority enrollment get paid $2,500 less on average than their counterparts within their school districts.

This information came from the Civil Rights Data Collection research. Part I, released in June, focused on enrollment data. Part II, which will be released by the end of this year, will offer a closer look into district demographics and end-of-year data.

Part II will also gives us great insight into where we should be focusing our efforts to improve our schools, on a civil rights front. Data will include the number of students passing Algebra I, in-school suspensions, zero-tolerance expulsion, school-related arrests, harassment and bullying, data on school financing and expenditures, among other categories.

Read BET’s story here and the DOE’s press release on the Civil Rights Data Collection here.

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