The NAACP has filed a federal lawsuit against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education, according to The Root. The lawsuit accuses DeVos and her department of abandoning civil rights enforcement regulations and “dismissing hundreds of complaints.”
The NAACP is filed the suit on Friday alongside the National Federation of the Blind and the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates to the U.S. District Court of Maryland. “Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education have determined that civil rights no longer matter. They’ve decided to abandon DOE’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) responsibility to investigate racial, gender or disability discrimination complaints,” said NAACP Spokesperson Malik Russell told The Root.
The organization claims that the DOE has undermined the Office of Civil Rights’ ability to enforce discrimination laws by making “illegal changes to its case procedure manual.”
“In March 2018, DOE’s Office of Civil Rights revised its Case Processing Manual thereby altering the rights of complainants to have their discrimination allegations reviewed or appeal decisions made by OCR. These changes, made without the legally required notice and comment, prevented the NAACP and other organizations from voicing our opinions about how the proposed rule changes would affect students of color, students with disabilities and low-income students, and thereby violates the federal Administrative Procedures Act,” an NAACP press release reads.
NAACP General Counsel Bradford M. Berry added, “By summarily changing policies to allow for the dismissal of civil rights complaints and the ability of organizations to appeal their rulings, DeVos is basically saying protecting civil rights and the rights of those with disabilities no longer matter at the Department of Education.”
DeVos is a billionaire with no prior experience in education. She was handpicked by Donald Trump, who the NAACP claims is responsible for setting the climate of these new negative practices. “It’s important for people to realize how the racism and rhetoric emanating from the White House is seeping its way into law and policy, and this arbitrary change is just one more example of where Trump is taking the nation,” Russell said.