Annual Report to Congress Fiscal Year 1998
The OCR is the agency within the United States Department of Education (ED) that regulates and enforces civil rights laws against discrimination in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. In limited cases, the OCR carries out this role for the 18 other federal agencies that have delegated their civil rights compliance activities to the agency. The OCR's authority is derived from the Department of Education Organization Act, 20 U.S.C. 3401, et seq.
The OCR enforces five laws that prohibit discrimination on the bases of race, color, national origin, sex, disability and age. They are:
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI), which prohibits race, color and national origin discrimination;
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), which prohibits sex discrimination;
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), which prohibits disability discrimination;
Age Discrimination Act of 1975, which prohibits age discrimination; and
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Title II), which prohibits disability discrimination by any public entity.
These widespread civil rights laws reach virtually the entire scope of education in this nation, as nearly all education institutions in the nation - from elementary through graduate or professional schools - receive federal financial assistance. The OCR's broad coverage extends to activities, practices and policies of:
nearly 15,000 public school districts;
more than 3,600 colleges and universities;
approximately 5,000 proprietary organizations, such as training schools for truck drivers and cosmetologists; and
thousands of public libraries, museums and vocational rehabilitation agencies.
A staggering number of students and others are affected by the OCR's work. Our statutory responsibilities cover these people:
52.2 million students attending elementary and secondary schools;
14 million students attending colleges and universities, as well as the millions of applicants to these colleges and universities;
tens of thousands of students attending proprietary schools;
thousands of students in vocational rehabilitation agencies; and
millions of people using libraries and museums.
The focus of the agency is on the provision of equal access to programs and services to students and to student applicants. Although people seeking employment in education, or those already employed by schools and colleges, are generally protected under the OCR's statutes, the agency's authority over employment cases is limited. We refer the great majority of the employment cases in education to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The OCR also carries out civil rights provisions for the Magnet Schools Assistance program (Title V, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act). In the last fiscal year, for example, we reviewed magnet school applications and provided civil rights assistance to these applicant schools.-###-