“Two federal civil-rights commissioners are calling on Congress to nix a proposed budget increase for the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, charging it with enacting overreaching and even unlawful policies on school discipline, sexual harassment and bullying.
‘In our study of all three topics, we have noticed a disturbing pattern of disregard for the rule of law at OCR,’ said U.S. Commission on Civil Rights members Gail Heriot and Peter Kirsanow in a Feb. 26 letter to House and Senate Appropriations Committee leaders.
In the letter, which was released this week, the commissioners argue that the office’s proposed 31 percent budget increase should be rejected.
‘That office has all-too-often been willing to define perfectly legal conduct as unlawful,’ the letter said. ‘Though OCR may claim to be under-funded, its resources are stretched thin largely because it has so often chosen to address violations it has made up out of thin air. Increasing OCR’s budget would in effect reward the agency for frequently over-stepping the law.’
The commissioners, speaking for themselves and not the entire commission, cite the OCR’s efforts to expand federal authority on three fronts: school bullying at the K-12 level; school discipline that has a ‘disparate impact’ on minority students; and campus sexual harassment.”