Annual Report to Congress FY 2005
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It is my pleasure to present our Annual Report to Congress for FY 2005, which marked the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the U.S. Department of Education (ED). In this report, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is providing a summary of its FY 2005 accomplishments. Also, in recognition of our 25th anniversary, we are highlighting some of the significant cases that OCR has resolved over the years.
The last quarter century was eventful and challenging for OCR. Major U.S. Supreme Court decisions, such as Grove City, Fordice, Gratz, and Grutter, guided OCR’s civil rights enforcement responsibilities, while legislation, such as the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988 and the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, provided clarification of those responsibilities. During this time, OCR resolved tens of thousands of discrimination complaints and compliance reviews affecting millions of our nation’s students through its vigorous enforcement of the civil rights laws, while also providing technical assistance to millions of teachers, administrators, parents, and students to encourage voluntary compliance.
|The task of educating our children requires us to take the long view, looking to the future while learning from the past. And the past has a lot to teach us….
OCR operates today in a changed world. In comparison to the library facilities, primitive filing systems, word processing equipment, and telephones in use when ED was established in May 1980, OCR’s staff now use state-of-the-art computer and telecommunications equipment and a Case and Activity Management System with integrated document management functions. In 1980, OCR was under federal court order to process its complaints in a timely fashion; in 2005, no longer under court order, OCR resolved almost 92 percent of its cases within 180 days. To help the public understand how OCR handles complaints and compliance reviews, the Case Resolution and Investigation Manual, updated in May 2005, clearly sets forth the procedures used by OCR to investigate and resolve cases of alleged discrimination. You can find the manual on OCR’s informative Web site, www.ed.gov/ocr.
While OCR has successfully brought its enforcement efforts into the 21st century, many of the discrimination issues OCR has addressed over time still persist. For example, OCR continues to work with schools to ensure that scientifically based reading programs are used so minority students and students with limited English proficiency are not misidentified and misplaced in special education classes; that students with disabilities receive a free, appropriate public education, and schools and colleges and universities provide program accessibility; and that recipients of ED financial assistance comply with the procedural requirements under sex discrimination regulations.
We have included in this 25th‑anniversary Annual Report to Congress a few quotations and case resolution stories from previous years to provide a flavor of the continuing nature of OCR’s endeavors over the years, as well as information on OCR’s substantive achievements in FY 2005 and the challenges facing us.
Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights