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Senator Seeks Resignation of OCR Head

July 18, 2017
 
 

Senator Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat and the top Democrat on the Senate education committee, called for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to remove her top civil rights official because of controversial comments on campus sexual assault last week.

Candice Jackson, the acting assistant secretary for civil rights at the Department of Education, told The New York Times in an interview that 90 percent of campus assault allegations “fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right.’” Jackson apologized for the comments after backlash from assault survivors and victims' advocates.

Despite that apology, Murray said the comments "crossed a serious line" and revealed a clear bias on the part of Jackson that should disqualify her from a top position at the department.

“This was the final straw, but it is not my only concern. Since the day she got on the job, Ms. Jackson has worked to narrow the role of the office, back away from the progress made to protect transgender students, take away the tools and resources the Office for Civil Rights has to protect students, and move it away from its mission to ‘ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation through vigorous enforcement of civil rights,’” Murray said in a statement Monday.

She also accused DeVos of shielding Jackson from scrutiny by not formally nominating her for the assistant secretary position, which she was named to on an acting basis in April.

The Washington Post editorial board on Friday also took Jackson to task over the comments, saying they showed she is "unqualified to lead."

In a statement responding to calls for Jackson's removal, DeVos said her OCR chief had already apologized for the comments to the Times and that they do not reflect her position or the department's position on campus sexual assault.

"They also did not reflect Candice’s position and values," DeVos said. "Candice is a valuable part of the administration and an unwavering advocate for the civil rights of all students."

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