School-related civil rights complaints explode

May 4, 2016 by

AP SENATE EDUCATION SECRETARY A FILE USA DC

Greg Toppo –

The U.S. Education Department last year received a record 10,392 civil rights complaints, with nearly half of them related to alleged discrimination against students with disabilities, new data show.

In findings being released Wednesday, the department’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) said 46% of complaints, or 4,806, were related to disability, including 76 cases alleging improper restraint or seclusion of students with disabilities. The restraint and seclusion figures represented the highest number ever and a 58% increase from the previous year.

Since OCR began tracking the complaint in 2011, the number of cases reported annually has essentially doubled.

Complaints of sexual violence on college and university campuses have exploded, the findings show: in just the past five years, complaints at the post-secondary level rose from 11 to 164.

Among other findings:

  • 28% of complaints were related to sexual discrimination, with 229 complaints overall involving sexual violence;
  • While racial harassment complaints over the past five years have risen, on average, over the previous five years, the number of complaints in 2015 actually dropped about 17% compared to 2014;
  • Overall, the number of complaints of all types received in the 2015 fiscal year rose 88% since a decade earlier, the findings show.

The federal fiscal year began in October 2014 and ended in September 2015.

The report also noted that OCR is working with the Justice Department in cases regarding the rights of transgender students’ access to restrooms and locker rooms “consistent with their gender identity.”

U.S. Education Secretary John King on Monday said that laws that restrict which bathrooms transgender students use “are hateful laws and should be repealed.”

He said the laws, such as those in North Carolina and Mississippi, send “a deeply problematic message to young people in schools and should be changed.”

King said the Obama administration was considering “enforcement actions” in North Carolina and Mississippi — administration lawyers have said in court filings that such laws violate federal law.

“My hope is legislators will realize they’ve made a terrible mistake,” King said.

Follow Greg Toppo on Twitter: @gtoppo

Source: School-related civil rights complaints explode

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