Of the Office for Civil Rights
Fiscal Year 2006
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Enforcing federal civil rights laws is critical to carrying out the mission of ED. They protect millions of students seeking to attend or attending education institutions. OCR helps ensure that all students, regardless of ethnicity, race, gender, disability or age, receive a quality education.
As a law enforcement agency, OCR’s primary responsibility is to make sure institutions receiving federal financial assistance are in compliance with federal civil rights laws. Accordingly, its primary objective will continue to be prompt and efficient investigation of complainants’ allegations of discrimination, accurate determination of whether the civil rights laws and regulations have been violated, and securing an appropriate remedy for any violation. Additionally, OCR will continue proactive enforcement efforts through compliance reviews and targeted technical assistance. OCR staff will continue to provide assistance to schools, train school administrators, and help parents and students understand their rights under the laws it enforces. To provide quality assistance to both the public and recipients of federal funds, OCR is also committed to continued policy and regulatory development.
Over the past decade, OCR’s complaint receipts have risen 20 percent, from 4,828 to 5,805. The only way to ensure that enforcement activities continue at the highest quality is to further develop and increase the knowledge and capability of OCR staff. In response to this increased workload, Assistant Secretary Stephanie Monroe will look to provide additional substantive training for OCR employees. Professional development, increased communication and nationwide coordination are just a few of the ways OCR will work to maintain operational excellence.
OCR is dedicated also to assisting the Department in building on the success of No Child Left Behind. The success of this landmark legislation is clear. As Department data indicate, achievement gaps in reading and math between African-American and Hispanic 9-year olds and their peers have fallen to all-time lows. As the Department works to reauthorize No Child Left Behind, OCR will continue to vigorously enforce civil rights laws and promote the principle that all students deserve equal access to educational excellence at all levels, elementary and secondary as well as postsecondary. Although OCR has achieved a a great deal over the last year, it is clear that much still needs to be accomplished, by both OCR and by the education community as a whole.