U.S. Department of Education: Promoting Educational Excellence for all Americans

Office for Civil Rights Annual Report to Congress (1999)

OCR Does More, More Efficiently

During FY 1999, OCR received 6,628 discrimination complaints alleging a wide range of civil rights concerns affecting access to equal educational opportunities. The number of complaints received exceeded any previous year in the agency's history. Fifty-one percent of complaints received were filed against elementary and secondary education institutions, 43 percent were filed against postsecondary education institutions, and 6 percent were filed against vocational rehabilitation and other types of institutions.

"Over a four-year period, OCR succeeded in reducing the average time to resolve complaints and the inventory of unresolved complaints. "

March 23, 1999
U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) Report

As in previous years, the majority of the FY 1999 complaints (57 percent) alleged discrimination on the basis of disability. These complaints raise issues regarding access, referral, evaluation, and placement of students with disabilities, as well as treatment and services made available to them. Race and national origin complaints accounted for 25 percent of the total and covered such issues as access to quality education, ability grouping, minority over-representation in special education, racial harassment, school discipline, assignment practices, and services to English language learners. Complaints based on sex discrimination comprised 14 percent of all complaints received and included issues such as access to interscholastic and intercollegiate athletics and sexual harassment. Age discrimination accounts for 6 percent. In addition, OCR receives and appropriately transfers many complaints outside of its statutory responsibilities.

Although OCR is receiving more complaints, efficiency has remained an chart1uncompromised goal. During FY 1999, 80 percent of complaints were resolved within 180 days of receipt, despite the record complaint caseload. A March 23, 1999, report on OCR's case resolution process issued by the General Accounting Office (GAO) highlighted OCR's improved case resolution process. The GAO attributed the improvement to OCR's change to a more flexible case resolution process that focuses on resolving complaints as soon as possible. The GAO also attributed improvement to OCR's replacement of a hierarchical structure for investigating complaints with case resolution teams of attorneys, investigators, and support staff that have the authority to reach resolution of most complaints.

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