Civil and Human Rights Coalition Demands Thorough Review of Nominee to Lead Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights

WASHINGTON – Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement on the nomination of Kenneth L. Marcus to be the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education:

“The Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights is one of the most important roles in the education of our nation’s children. To serve in this role, an individual must have a demonstrated record of support for our nation’s civil rights laws and marginalized communities and a demonstrated commitment to the belief that every student has a right to learn and be treated with dignity and without discrimination. The Office for Civil Rights is responsible for preventing and remedying individual and systemic discrimination within our nation’s schools from K-12 through higher education.

Secretary DeVos’ dismal record on civil rights and her failure to support students only heightens the importance of the Office for Civil Rights and the need for a qualified individual to lead it. Students cannot afford a Department of Education that continues to disrespect their rights and the law.

In its confirmation hearing, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has an obligation to thoroughly examine the qualifications of Kenneth L. Marcus and his record, the actions of the Office for Civil Rights since the beginning of this administration, and planned future actions. Our nation’s students deserve no less than the full, robust protection of their rights and an assistant secretary who will meaningfully enforce them.”

In February, 60 civil rights groups sent a letter to DeVos emphasizing the importance of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the qualities of the individual who should lead the office. That letter is available here.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is 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 member organizations, visit