Betsy DeVos Takes Aim At Civil Rights Protections

President Donald Trump’s primary agenda has been to strip away any piece of policy he can find that was enacted by the Barack Obama administration. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is following her boss’ lead by eliminating the civil rights protections achieved during Obama’s tenure.

As Politico reports, DeVos is revamping the guidelines for civil rights discrimination in schools to drastically weaken them. Already, the DeVos-led Education Department has been dismissing civil rights complaints twice as fast as before.

It’s a bizarre move from a person who just a few weeks ago complained she’s been unfairly blamed for not caring about students’ civil rights:

“[It’s] hurtful to me when I’m criticized for not upholding the rights of students, the civil rights of students,” said DeVos. “I have to turn it back around and say, ‘Why do I keep getting criticized for that?’ I mean nothing that I’ve done would suggest otherwise.”

Well for starters, these civil rights changes would be a prime example of that. Previously, DeVos has also overseen rule changes that leave transgender students more vulnerable and young women less likely to be able to hold their sexual assaulters accountable.

Among the changes DeVos has made to the civil rights investigation rules that go into effect on March 5 are:

  • People who file complaints have to gather and present evidence in a shorter time span
  • DoE decisions are final and cannot be appealed
  • Investigators are to look specifically at filed complaints and not larger, potentially systemic issues

To that last point, obviously looking into a school-wide culture of discrimination is a more involved process than glancing at a single incident, but that doesn’t make it less worthwhile. If an institution does have systemic issues, that’s all the more reason that it should be identified and addressed.

“The decision to excise ‘systemic’ from the manual… means that they will be pursuing Whack-a-Mole justice, rather than change that actually addresses the systemic barriers to education faced by children of color, immigrant children, LGBTQ children, children with disabilities and other marginalized children around the country,” said Miriam Rollin of the National Center for Youth Law.

One of the other biggest ways the manual has changed is that a section that listed reasons why government investigators “may” dismiss complaints has been re-labeled to say reasons why the claims “will” be dismissed. In other words, rather than giving investigators leeway to determine a claim’s merit, they are being instructed to drop it altogether if there’s even a small strike against it.

According to Liz Hill, an Education Department spokesperson, the changes have been made not to take away civil rights protections, but for the sake of “efficiency, effectiveness and clarity.”

However, as Politico points out, civil rights proponents don’t see it the same way, arguing that it’s a map for schools to more easily dodge civil rights investigations and let the discriminatory status quo prevail.

It sure seems like the Department of Education would prefer not to look at these issues at all, so by amending the rules, they’re able to throw out a bunch of potentially valid complaints from the start. If DeVos were the guardian of civil rights that she’d have you believe, there’s no way she’d be doing any of this in the first place.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

47 comments

KimJ M
KimJ M3 months ago

Tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ M3 months ago

Tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ M3 months ago

Tfs

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Lesa D
Lesa D3 months ago

she is beyond unqualified for this position & *IF* she was smart she would resign...

thank you Kevin...

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Elaine W
Elaine W3 months ago

Disgusting and unamerican.

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Angela J
Angela J3 months ago

Thanks

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Belinda Lang
Belinda Lang3 months ago

It is so good that Betsy DeVos is hurt by the criticism of her elimination of civil rights protections enacted during the Obama administration. She deserves to be hurt..

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Amanda M
Amanda M3 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Amanda M
Amanda M3 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Winn A
Winnie A3 months ago

She isn't fit to have that job!!!!!

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