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Civil Rights Complaints to U.S. DOE Reach Record High

Civil Rights Complaints to U.S. DOE Reaches Record High

Due to a heavy amount of civil rights complaints, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it wants to hire 200 more investigators and expand its civil rights division by 30 percent.

Civil rights complaints filed with the U.S. Department of Education "increased from 6,364 in fiscal year 2009 to 9,989 last year," according to an article on WashingtonPost.com. "Catherine Lhamon, the department's assistant secretary for civil rights, expects to field a record number of complaints this year."

According to the article, "attorneys and investigators in the civil rights office have seen their workloads double since 2007, and the number of unresolved cases mushroom, as complaints have poured in from around the country about students from kindergarten through college facing discrimination on the basis of race, sex and disabilities."

“Some of this is about the community believing that we’re here and we’re in business and we’re prepared to do the work,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, the department’s secretary for civil rights, in the article. "Some of the increase, she said, was due to guidance her agency has issued, reminding the public as well as schools and universities of various protections under federal law and how to report illegalities."

Lhamon, according to the article, "said that without the additional employees, the current staff will continue to strain under growing caseloads and it will take longer to resolve complaints. The backlog of cases that have been pending for longer than 180 days has doubled during the past five years from 315 to 630."

“I have a very real concern about our ability to do the work the way we want to do it, and the way students who rely on us want it done, if we cannot get the resources we need to handle the caseload,” Lhamon said.

Read the full story and comment below.

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

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