According to the agenda for 2019 posted on its website, the U.S. Department of Education’s internal watchdog, the Office of the Inspector General, will be examining the department’s controversial process for dismissing civil rights complaints.
In July, Representative Maxine Waters (D-California) introduced the Education Department Civil Rights Transparency Act, which was co-sponsored by 20 other members of Congress. The legislation would require the U.S. Department of Education to reveal which schools have been accused of violating students’ civil rights, as well as any corrective actions or other resolutions of its probes. For complaints it declined to investigate, the department would have to publicly explain why.
Recently, the department announced that it is only planning to investigate certain potential civil rights violations, whereas it looked at every complaint for potential evidence of systemic discrimination during the Obama administration.
The OIG will examine the department’s oversight of state accountability systems developed under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), paying special attention to the identification of schools and improvement plans. It will also see if the department is properly overseeing the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants, a $1.1 billion block grant created under ESSA which can be used for a wide variety of purposes, including school safety, counseling, arts education, and college and career readiness.
Management of the $2.5 billion in disaster recovery funds, which were allocated to help K–12 school districts and colleges affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, or Maria or the 2017 California wildfires, will also be scrutinized.