Thursday, February 11, 2016

Obama Requests 29% Increase in Funding for OCR

On Tuesday the Obama administration proposed a federal budget to Congress that would increase funding to the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights to $138 million, a 29% increase over its current level of support.  As mentioned in this Huffington Post article about the proposed budget, OCR is presently investigating alleged Title IX violations at 162 colleges and universities, as well as 73 school districts. The backlog causes most investigations to take at least a year, with some taking far longer.  The requested budget increase aims to address the problem by earmarking the additional funds for adding more personnel at the agency's regional offices, which handle enforcement. 

As the Huffington Post article points out, request and reality often differ where federal budgets are concerned.  Last year the President proposed increasing OCR's budget from $100 million to $130 million, but Congress only agreed to $107 million. If recent trends predict the future, it seems likely that that President would get some but not all of the requested increase.  Hopefully Congress will add enough new funding to make a meaningful difference the agency's ability to conduct investigations in a reasonable amount of time, and ensure that the agency can vigorously enforce Title IX without losing focus on its other civil rights responsibilities, including the enforcement of statutes that prohibit discrimination based on race and disability.