Education Secretary Betsy DeVos slammed by Democratic senators for cutting civil rights enforcement

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Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been slammed by a group of 34 Democratic senators for making cuts to civil rights enforcement.

Senator Pat Murray led the chastise which criticised the rollback of the staff positions who serve to investigate and protect minority students in state schools.

46 full-time civil rights investigators would lose their position because of the cuts.

The investigators look into complaints lodged by students, parents and teachers surrounding issues of discrimination based on sex, sexuality, gender, race, disability and age.

The senators who signed the letter said that they were “alarmed” and “extremely disappointed” by the cuts.

The letter stated: “Your testimony in front of Congress, your continued association of with groups with records of supporting discrimination, and two memos written by the Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights have reemphasised longstanding concerns about your dedication to the idea that all students, no matter their race, religion, disability, country of origin, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity, have a right to receive an education free from discrimination.

“You claim to support civil rights and oppose discrimination, but your actions belie you assurances.”

The senators went on to write that they were “extremely disappointed in the Department’s failure to take actions to protect transgender students”.

As well as the cuts made to the civil rights positions, DeVos has reversed protections for transgender students that had been put in place by the Obama administration.

The United States Commission of Civil Rights announced that it would start a review of the civil rights enforcement under the Trump administration.

The investigation comes after the Justice Department proposed that 121 members of staff should be cut from the civil rights division.

“The dangerous reduction of civil rights enforcement across the country leaves communities of colour, LGBT people, older people, people with disabilities and other marginalised groups exposed to greater risk of discrimination,” the commission said in a statement.

Senator Murray and the groups of others who signed the letter for DeVos concluded that there was “no more serious responsibility of the Department than to ensure consistent, vigorous enforcement of civil rights laws and protections for all students”.

They also used the chance to demand that the agency proves how they are processing complaints of transphobic discrimination and sexual assault.

“The Department must fulfil that responsibility and work tirelessly to promote equality, opportunity, and an environment free of discrimination for all our children,” they added.