The NAACP and special education advocates have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) over its failure to address discrimination complaints.
On Friday, the National Federation of the Blind and the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates joined the NAACP in their announcement of an intention to sue Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights in the U.S. District Court of Maryland, according to The Root.
“Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education have determined that civil rights no longer matter. They’ve decided to abandon DOE’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) responsibility to investigate racial, gender or disability discrimination complaints,” Malik Russell, NAACP spokesperson, told The Root.
The official press release claims the DOE under DeVos has failed to provide equal access to education by abandoning the Office of Civil Rights. Newsweek reports the OCR began dismissing hundreds of discrimination claims in April. DeVos and other officials have deflected criticism by claiming the new decision was to make the office more efficient.
These changes prevent organizations like the NAACP from bringing up concerns over civil rights violations. As the lawsuit notes, students of color, students with disabilities and low-income students, will be affected the most; and this change violates the federal Administrative Procedures Act.
“By summarily changing policies to allow for the dismissal of civil rights complaints and the ability of organizations to appeal their rulings, DeVos is basically saying protecting civil rights and the rights of those with disabilities no longer matter at the Department of Education,” Bradford M. Berry, NAACP general counsel, said to The Root.
In the past few months, the DOE has also rescinded guidances written to protect against sexual assault.