Dept. of Education Rescinds Obama Civil Rights Guidelines

By Free Radical 

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has spearheaded a commission that will repeal civil rights safeguards for students of color.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has spearheaded a commission that will repeal civil rights safeguards for students of color.

On Friday, a commission led by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos rescinded federal guidelines designed to protect students of color from discrimination.

The Federal Commission on School Safety recommended that schools no longer be held responsible or liable when they have disproportionate racial rates of student discipline. The provisions were passed by former President Barack Obama’s administration in 2014 in response to alarming rates of suspensions and expulsions of students of color.

In 2016, for example it was reported that Black girls are suspended at six times the rate of White girls.

The 2014 guidelines were intended to employ less harsh measures than punishments that required students to lose school time. The regulations were not binding but made school districts aware that they could be subject to federal civil rights oversight and penalties for disparate impact even if school rules on their face seemed nondiscriminatory.

Interestingly, the Federal Commission on School Safety ostensibly had nothing to do with civil rights but with school shootings. It was convened in response to February’s Parkland, Florida school shooting which left 17 children and staff members dead.

While the much publicized student led protests called for increased gun control, the commission said early that it would not do much on this front. Its report has made recommendations to allow parents and law enforcement officials to remove firearms from mentally disturbed persons. It also acceded to conservative demands by urging school personnel to carry firearms.

Since Obama’s 2014 guidelines were established, 50 of the nation’s largest school districts instituted reforms to be in compliance. Suspensions in the country have also declined, particularly for Hispanic students.

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