Action: Tell Your Local School Board to Challenge Loss of Students’ Civil Rights

Photo of Capital High School students organizing the March for Science Olympia 2018.

Stand with Students and Protect Their Civil Rights

Background:

Under the direction of Secretary Betsy DeVos, the Education Department has written new guidelines for investigating discrimination in schools. These changes substantially weaken the enforcement of civil rights. Specifically, the new guidelines narrow the scope of investigations, eliminate the appeals process for students and parents, and instruct investigators to dismiss complaints for a wide variety of reasons. These changes will severely impact all student complaints of discrimination in our schools.

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/03/01/betsy-devos-school-civil-rights-rules-711790

Except: The changes appear to be in line with a goal of sifting more quickly through the thousands of civil rights complaints the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights receives each year. The changes appear in a new version of the Office for Civil Right’s Case Processing Manual, posted to the department’s website and dated effective March 5.

Excerpt: But civil rights advocates were highly critical. “The decision to excise ‘systemic’ from the manual and — more importantly — from the work of [the Office for Civil Rights] means that they will be pursuing Whack-a-Mole justice, rather than change that actually addresses the systemic barriers to education faced by children of color, immigrant children, LGBTQ children, children with disabilities, and other marginalized children around the country,” said Miriam Rollin, director of the National Center for Youth Law, a nonprofit law firm.

ACTION: Write to your local school board.

Script:

Dear Board of Education, I am writing to express my concern over Betsy DeVos’s changes to the Office for Civil Rights Case Processing Manual. These changes prevent appeals by parents and students who disagree with the investigator’s findings. They also make it harder for students to provide information on civil rights complaints. I would like the Board to stand with students and challenge these changes. Please ensure that every student’s rights are protected. Thank you.

Finding Your Board’s Contacts

In the South Sound area, here are links to many school boards:

Note these links live on LocalMotive’s “Elected Officials” page at https://localmotive.org/elected-officials/#Schools.

This action is from Olympia Indivisible’s weekly Call to Action. Be sure to go to their website for more on the actions, upcoming events and for their latest Research Report.  Also find them on Facebook.