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

Annual Report to Congress Fiscal Year 1998

The OCR'S National Impact

The OCR received 4,847 complaints from students, parents and others in fiscal year 1998. These complaints represented a wide range of civil rights issues and were filed against institutions at all levels of education. Sixty-eight percent of the complaints in fiscal year 1998 were filed against elementary or secondary schools, 25 percent against colleges and universities, and 7 percent against such other agencies as vocational rehabilitation, proprietary schools, and libraries.

Complaint Receipts by Basis
(Due to complaints filed on more than one basis, the total number of complaint receipts by basis is greater than the number received.)

For the past decade, the most common basis for a civil rights complaint in education has been discrimination on the basis of a disability. As shown in the figure, the majority of complaints received by the OCR in the last fiscal year are disability complaints (Section 504 and Title II); these complaints comprise about 60 percent of the total. Following behind are those filed on the basis of race, color or national origin (Title VI); these complaints comprise 25 percent of the total. Complaints alleging sex discrimination (Title IX) constitute 11 percent of the total and complaints alleging age discrimination make up 4 percent of the total. If a typical complaint could be identified solely from this data, it would be one filed against an elementary or secondary school by a student or parent charging discrimination on the basis of disability to a program, service or activity.

In the last fiscal year, eight percent of complaints (405 complaints) were filed on more than one discrimination basis. The most prevalent multiple-basis complaint was filed on the two issues of disability and race/national origin discrimination. The second most common multiple-basis complaint was filed on the grounds of race/national origin and sex discrimination, and the third most prevalent multiple-basis complaint was filed on disability and sex discrimination.

Complaint Receipts and Resolutions

In fiscal year 1998, 4,753 complaints were resolved, including some that had been filed in a prior year. There are a number of ways a complaint can be resolved: by addressing civil rights violations, or by finding that no civil rights violations occurred, or that there was insufficient evidence to find that a complaint occurred, or by finding the complaint inappropriate for the OCR's action, often due to lack of statutory jurisdiction. During fiscal year 1998, the OCR worked successfully with school districts and colleges to resolve complaints in a manner that effectively mandated positive change for students.


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