WASHINGTON - The Associated Press has reported that the Department of Education has received a record number of complaints that the civil rights of students are being violated. According to the AP, the complaints are up 11 percent this fiscal year to about 7,000. The complaints range from racial disparities in discipline and suspension rates to inadequate education for English language learners and unequal treatment of students with disabilities.
"The Department of Education's commitment to enforcing long-neglected civil rights laws is obviously resonating with students and their families and tapping into a deep well of pent-up demand for quality education," said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference. "Education is a civil and human right for all our children. But 50 years after Brown v. Board of Education, more than 40 percent of African-American and Latino students still don't graduate from high school on time and approximately 2,000 schools are responsible for about 75 percent of minority drop outs."
Earlier this year, the Department of Education announced that it would step up enforcement of federal civil rights laws that require states and school districts to provide equal educational opportunity to all American children, regardless of race, gender, or disability. The civil rights community – long concerned about disparities in educational opportunities, the dropout rate among minorities, and the school-to-prison pipeline – applauded the announcement.
"By following through on their pledge to make civil rights enforcement a top priority, Secretary [Arne] Duncan and Assistant Secretary [Russlyn] Ali are helping to bring to light many of the problems that undermine our educational system and deny our children the future they deserve," said Henderson.
The department is currently conducting 54 compliance reviews in school districts and universities around the country.