Office for Civil Rights
Annual Report to Congress FY 2005

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The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the U.S. Department of Education (ED) is responsible for enforcing five federal civil rights laws prohibiting discrimination on the bases of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, and age by recipients of federal financial assistance.  These laws are:

  • Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (prohibiting discrimination based on race, color or national origin);
  • Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (prohibiting sex discrimination in education programs);
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (prohibiting disability discrimination);
  • The Age Discrimination Act of 1975 (prohibiting age discrimination); and
  • Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (prohibiting disability discrimination by public entities, whether or not they receive federal financial assistance, such as elementary and secondary education systems and institutions, institutions of higher education and vocational education [other than schools of medicine, dentistry, nursing, and other health-related schools], and libraries).

In addition, OCR enforces the Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act.  This law addresses equal access for the Boy Scouts of America and other designated youth groups.  The act applies to any public elementary school, public secondary school, or state or local education agency that has a designated open forum or limited public forum and that receives funds from the U.S. Department of Education.

These civil rights laws represent a national commitment to end discrimination in education programs.  Because most educational institutions receive some type of federal financial assistance, these laws apply throughout the nation.

Coverage of these civil rights laws extends to:

  • 17,468 public elementary and secondary education agencies;1
  • 4,216 colleges and universities;2 and
  • thousands of institutions conferring certificates below the associate degree level, such as training schools for truck drivers and cosmetologists, and other entities, such as libraries, museums, and vocational rehabilitation agencies. 3

Consequently, these civil rights laws protect millions of students attending or seeking to attend our educational institutions.  In certain situations, the laws also protect persons who are employed or seeking employment at educational institutions.  Overall, these laws protect:

  • more than 48.3 million students attending public elementary and secondary schools; 4 and
  • more than 17.3 million students attending postsecondary degree-granting institutions, such as colleges and universities. 5

Enforcing these laws is critical to carrying out the mission of the U.S. Department of Education:  ensuring equal access to education and promoting educational excellence throughout the nation.

In FY 2005, OCR’s budget was $89,375,000, with full-time equivalent (FTE) staff of 640.  See Figure 1 on historical funding and FTE.

Figure 1: U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil RightsAppropriations, FTE & Workload Data FY 1995– FY 2005

1 U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (2005). Digest of Education Statistics Tables and
Figures 2004–05
,Washington, D.C.:  Table 86.

2 Ibid, Table 244.

3 Ibid, Table 355.

4 U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (2005). Projections of Education Statistics
to 2014 (NCES-2005074), Washington, D.C.: Table 1, p. 45.

5 Ibid, Table 10, p. 57.

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