DeVos Must Clarify How She’ll Protect Students’ Civil Rights During Budget Hearing

Media 05.24.17

WASHINGTON – Ahead of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ testimony before a House Appropriations subcommittee today, Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, released the following statement:

“We look forward to hearing how Secretary DeVos intends to advance public education and protect students’ civil rights. The department’s actions since January have raised serious doubt about the secretary’s commitment to enforcing federal law and protecting all students. For example, the rescission of guidance clarifying legal protections for transgender students, the appointment of Candice Jackson to serve as Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, and repeated comments abdicating the federal department’s responsibilities in deference to state discretion confirmed our concern that she has little understanding of what it takes to make our nation’s schools safe and welcoming for all children.

The president’s budget proposal should be a moral outline that tells us what the administration prioritizes. The U.S. Department of Education plays a critical role in the lives of American children and is responsible for implementing and enforcing laws protecting students from discrimination and improving public education. We expect Secretary DeVos to explain how her proposed budget will fulfill the department’s mandate to ensure equal educational opportunity and protection from discrimination. We urge lawmakers to press her on these issues.

The secretary’s role as an enforcer of education and civil rights laws is central to advancing our shared vision of an inclusive and diverse system of high-quality, accessible public education from early childhood through higher education. Secretary DeVos never fully committed to this role during her confirmation process. Now that she’s asking for funding to do the work, Americans should know if she’ll use it to ensure all children have a quality education that prepares them for the future.”

Wade Henderson is president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit