American Oversight’s first six Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests of 2018 asked the Department of Education to release numerous records relating to civil rights investigations and the management of the department’s Office of Civil Rights.
Two of the FOIA requests seek the release of data on civil rights investigations opened or conducted by the Department in the first year of the Trump administration as well as during the eight years of the Obama administration. The data will allow the public to assess whether the Department’s approach to civil rights issues changed after the start of the Trump administration.
Similarly, two additional FOIA requests ask for records of staffing at the Department’s Office of Civil Rights under the Trump and Obama administrations. The two final requests seek copies of communications between Education and Congress regarding civil rights issues and records of presentations given to the public by the Office of Civil Rights.
All six FOIAs can be found here.
The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights is currently headed by Candice Jackson, a Trump political appointee whose résumé – which was obtained and released by American Oversight – lists her experience attacking Hillary Clinton as one of her top qualifications for the job.
American Oversight has previously investigated Secretary Betsy DeVos’ mismanagement of the Department of Education. Our review of DeVos’ calendars found that she frequently takes long weekends, and has focused her time extensively on private and charter schools.
The new FOIA requests are not the first time that American Oversight has sought answers on the Trump administration’s handling of civil rights issues related to education. Our joint investigation with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law forced the Justice Department to confirm that it had opened an investigation of Harvard University’s affirmative action program.