Office for Civil Rights
Annual Report to Congress FY 2005

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Complaint Investigations and Resolutions

One of the most important ways OCR carries out its responsibilities is by investigating and resolving complaints.  People who believe there has been a violation of the civil rights laws enforced by OCR may file a complaint with the appropriate enforcement office. 

In resolving complaints, OCR’s primary objectives are to investigate promptly the allegations of discrimination and to determine accurately whether any civil rights laws have been violated.  In FY 2005, OCR received 5,533 complaints and resolved 5,365, some of which had been filed in previous years.  Appendix B shows FY 2005 complaint receipts by OCR enforcement offices.

Timeliness is critical to students and parents in the resolution of civil rights issues and is a useful measure of the efficiency and effectiveness of our complaint resolution process.  OCR’s goal is to have 80 percent of resolved complaints resolved within 180 days of being filed.  In FY 2005, OCR resolved almost 92 percent of its resolved complaints within 180 days. 

During FY 2005, OCR continued using an investigative approach that stresses full investigation of complaints.  If OCR’s investigation finds areas of noncompliance with the civil rights laws, OCR enters into negotiations with recipients to correct the violations and reach a voluntary resolution agreement.  It is only after OCR has advised recipients of their failure to comply with the civil rights laws and has determined 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 for judicial enforcement.

As in most years, the majority of complaints OCR received in FY 2005 alleged discrimination on the basis of disability (52 percent). 

Figure 2 shows the percentage of complaint receipts by jurisdiction.

Pie chart showing FY 2005 Complaint Caseload by Jurisdiction, 5,533 Reciepts. Disability Discrimination 52% (2,893); Sex Discrimination 6% (319); Race/National Origin 18% (1,012); Other Complaints 9% (521); Multiple Allegations 13% (706); Age Discrimination 1% (82).

*Other includes mostly complaints over which OCR had no jurisdiction or that were referred to another agency.
Figure 2

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Last Modified: 11/01/2007