Office for Civil Rights
2000 Annual Report to Congress
OCR Does More Work, More Efficiently
FY 2000 Complaint Workload
During FY 2000, OCR received 4,897 and resolved 6,364 discrimination complaints, some of which had been received in previous years, involving a wide range of civil rights concerns affecting students' access to equal educational opportunities. The number of complaints that were resolved in FY 2000 exceeded those of any previous year. Of the 4,897 complaints that OCR received in FY 2000, 68 percent were filed against elementary and secondary education institutions, 25 percent were filed against postsecondary education institutions, and 7 percent were filed against vocational rehabilitation and other types of institutions.
As in previous years, the majority (55 percent) of the FY 2000 complaints received alleged discrimination on the basis of disability. These complaints raised issues of access, referral, evaluation and placement of students with disabilities, as well as the treatment and services provided to them. Race and national origin complaints accounted for 18 percent of the total and covered such issues as access to quality education, ability grouping, racial harassment, school discipline, assignment practices and services to English language learners. Complaints alleging sex discrimination comprised 8 percent of all complaint receipts and included issues such as access to interscholastic and intercollegiate athletics and sexual harassment. Age discrimination accounted for 1 percent of complaint receipts. Eleven percent of complaints received by OCR alleged discrimination under multiple jurisdictions. For example, an allegation of inappropriate assignment of minority students to special education involves both race/national origin and disability issues. In addition to complaints that contained allegations of discrimination under OCR's jurisdiction, we received and transferred many complaints that were outside of our statutory responsibility.
OCR Maximizes Resources and Delivers Increased Customer Service
OCR's staff is its most important resource. OCR's work is labor intensive and its ability to ensure that all students have equal access to a high-quality education depends on maintaining a competent, well-trained, technologically proficient workforce. About 80 percent of OCR's annual budget is for staffing. In FY 2000, OCR's congressional appropriation was $71,200,000, and OCR used the equivalent of 712 full-time staff to resolve 6,364 complaints.
More than 90 percent of OCR's staff are engaged in compliance and enforcement activities, including responding to complaints, conducting compliance reviews and other proactive initiatives, monitoring resolution agreements, developing policy guidance, providing technical assistance, responding to customer inquiries, and other activities to ensure that civil rights considerations are included in all Department of Education programs. Because OCR dedicates over 90 percent of its workforce directly to program activities and uses a flexible complaint resolution process that empowers small teams of attorneys and investigators to independently resolve most complaints, OCR has been able to manage an increasingly large and complex workload while providing improved customer service.
OCR also uses its resources to assist customers (e.g., parents, students, schools and colleges) in preventing civil rights problems and addressing civil rights concerns at the local level. By providing guidance and resource information to the public, OCR believes that students, parents, schools and colleges will better understand civil rights requirements and have the tools to address these issues locally.
In FY 2000, OCR made advances in the use of technology to deliver timely, accessible and accurate information to our customers. OCR improved and expanded its agency-wide Intranet site, providing OCR employees increased access to information necessary to work effectively. OCR is also in the process of developing a new case management system (CMS) that will include both case-related data and documents. OCR anticipates that the CMS also will provide direct access to Departmental data that is used to ensure civil rights compliance. OCR's user-friendly Internet site (http://www.ed.gov/ocr) features many resources to inform parents and students of their rights, including an easy-to-understand description of the complaint resolution process. In addition, the site offers straightforward guidance for educational institutions on complying with civil rights laws, as well as guidance and checklists to make it easier for school districts to prepare and submit data for the fall 2000 Elementary and Secondary Civil Rights Compliance Report. In the near future, an online complaint form will be available to anyone who wishes to file a complaint electronically.