Office for Civil Rights
Annual Report to Congress FY 2004

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Organizational Structure

OCR is composed of a headquarters office, located in Washington, D.C., which provides overall leadership, policy development and coordination of enforcement activities, and 12 enforcement offices around the nation. The enforcement offices are responsible for the investigation and resolution of complaints of discrimination, the conduct of compliance reviews, and the provision of technical assistance. The majority of OCR's staff are assigned to the enforcement offices, which are located in Boston, New York, Philadelphia (Eastern Division); Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Dallas (Southern Division); Cleveland, Chicago, Kansas City (Midwestern Division); and Denver, San Francisco, Seattle (Western Division).

Complaint Investigations and Resolutions

One important way OCR carries out its responsibilities is by investigating and resolving complaints. Persons who believe there has been a violation of the civil rights laws enforced by OCR may file a complaint with the appropriate enforcement office. OCR's process provides a forum for resolution of complaints of discrimination alleging violations of the civil rights laws.

OCR's primary objectives are to promptly investigate the complainant's allegations of discrimination and to accurately determine whether the civil rights laws have been violated. OCR is committed to providing timely relief to students who are denied equal access to educational opportunity. OCR will resolve 80 percent of resolved complaints within 180 days. In FY 2004, OCR received 5,044 complaints and resolved 4,968, some of which had been filed in previous years. OCR resolved 91 percent of these complaints within 180 days, significantly exceeding its goal of 80 percent. Timeliness is critical to students and parents in the resolution of civil rights issues and a very useful measure of the efficiency and effectiveness of our complaint resolution process. 

“The University is pleased to have been a part of the Early Complaint Resolution process, and is equally pleased that the process had a positive outcome. We appreciated the professional manner of the Office for Civil Rights staff.”

Aug. 27, 2004, letter from a
University Legal Counsel

During FY 2004, OCR revised its Case Resolution Manual and renamed it the Case Resolution and Investigation Manual. The new name and revised content reflected a shift to an investigative approach, which stresses full investigation of complaints. If these methods fail, OCR issues violation letters and enters into negotiations to correct those violations. It is only after OCR has advised recipients of their failure to comply with the civil rights laws and has determined that compliance cannot be secured by voluntary means that, as a last resort, OCR seeks compliance through the administrative hearing process or refers cases to the U.S. Department of Justice.

As in most years, the majority of complaints OCR received in FY 2004 alleged discrimination on the basis of disability (52 percent). We also find that other egregious types of discrimination persist. For example, in FY 2004, OCR received a complaint alleging that the principal of a junior high school was placing black and white students in segregated classrooms. OCR initiated an investigation and determined that classes indeed were segregated by race. During the investigative process, OCR learned that the new district superintendent had also reviewed the situation and determined that no legitimate, nondiscriminatory educational justification existed for the segregated classrooms. The district entered into a voluntary agreement with OCR to develop and implement a race-neutral method for assigning students to classrooms.

Figure 2 shows the percentage of complaint receipts by jurisdiction.

Pie chart showing FY 2004. 5,044 Reciepts. Disability (2,624) 52%. Sex (283) 6%.  Race/National Origin (946) 19%. Other (537) 10%. Multiple (583) 12%. Age (71) 1%.

Appendix A shows FY 2004 complaint receipts by OCR enforcement offices and Appendix B lists the contact information for each enforcement office.

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Last Modified: 11/01/2007