NAACP Sues Betsy DeVos And DOE For Dismissing Civil Rights Complaints

Written by Ann Brown

Since her appointment as United States Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos has caused a negative firestorm, offending the LGBT community, immigrant students, people with disabilities, and the Black community .

The NAACP is suing Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education for their blatant disregard for civil rights.

And now the NAACP is taking action. The civil rights organization is suing Betsy DeVos and the Dept. Of Education to stop a new office for Civil Rights rule. It’s in an effort to fight new DOE provisions that would permit the DOE’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) to dismiss complaints that would be too financially burdensome for the office to manage. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are: the NAACP, National Federation of the Blind and Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates. Candice Jackson, acting assistant secretary for the OCR, is also a defendant.

The lawsuit is in response to new guidelines for the OCR. “The OCR will now dismiss any complaint that is ‘a continuation of a pattern of complaints previously filed with OCR by an individual or group against multiple recipients or a complaint(s) is filed for the first time against multiple recipients that, viewed as a whole, places an unreasonable burden on OCR’s resources.’ The rules also eliminate the appeals process–the appeals section was removed from the guidelines entirely,” Diversity reported.

The NAACP says that the new DOE policy weakens the OCR’s ability to enforce discrimination laws and that the changes made in policy and producers are “illegal.” These changes were made “without giving any notice to the public, not giving anyone a chance to comment on the changes–a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act,” Complex reported.

Under the new rules, the DOE has already dismissed, according to Diversity, “hundreds of complaints as a result of the new rules–in addition to dismissing 58 percent of its complaints in fiscal year 2016.”

“Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education have determined that civil rights no longer matter,” Malik Russell, a spokesperson for the NAACP, told The Root. “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.”

DeVos, a billionaire with actually no experience in education, was selected personally by President Trump.  She is known for her support for school choice, school voucher programs, and charter schools.

NAACP General Counsel Bradford M. Berry concluded, “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.”


U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Image: Gage Skidmore

About Ann Brown

Ann Brown has been a freelance writer for more than two decades. Her work has appeared in CocoaFab, Black Enterprise, Essence,, New York Trend, Upscale, Moguldom, AFKInsider, The Network Journal, Playboy, Africa Strictly Business, For Harriet, Pathfinders, Black Meetings & Tourism, Frequent Flier, Girl, Honey, Source Sports, The Source, Black Radio Exclusive, and Launch. She studied journalism at New York University and has her B.A. Born in New York, Ann lived in Praia, Cabo Verde, for nearly a decade. She created “An American In Cabo Verde,” a Facebook community.