Leef calls for major change in key U.S. Education Department office

George Leef’s latest Martin Center column focuses on a piece of the Washington, D.C., bureaucracy known as the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights.

Nowhere is the adage “personnel is policy” truer than in the federal education bureaucracy. With nothing more than a few Dear Colleague letters meant to provide “guidance” to nearly all colleges and universities, during the Obama administration officials in the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) made dramatic and harmful changes in the law.

The next head of OCR should be someone who understands that those changes were both ill-advised and illegal and work to eliminate them. A number of Americans (this writer included) have advocated that the job be offered to Gail Heriot, a professor of law at the University of San Diego.

We don’t know at this time who President Trump will nominate, but unless the individual wants to continue the policies of Obama’s OCR, there is sure to be fierce opposition. For example, Liz King of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is quoted in this Chronicle of Higher Education piece as saying, “An individual is not qualified to serve in this role unless they have a demonstrated record of support for the nation’s civil rights laws and the students and communities protected under those laws.”

That signals a fight if Heriot is nominated, since she supports civil rights, but views the civil rights laws differently from King and other liberals.

No matter who Trump nominates, the key task for the next OCR head to do is to reverse its intrusion into campus discipline procedures for students accused of sexual assault.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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