Ed Department Civil Rights Head to Step Down

July 10, 2020

Kenneth Marcus, assistant secretary for civil rights for the U.S. Department of Education, will step down from his position at the end of the month, a news release from the department said.

As head of the Office for Civil Rights, or OCR, Marcus led the department’s overhaul of rules for how colleges must respond to reports of sexual misconduct as well as the department's “vigorous enforcement” of a controversial December 2019 executive order from President Trump that instructed officials to consider some anti-Israel sentiment on campus to be anti-Semitic when investigating civil rights complaints, the release said. Marcus said in a tweet that he will be returning to “private life.”

“Throughout my tenure, OCR has reinforced its status as a neutral, impartial civil rights law enforcement agency that faithfully executes the laws as written and in full, no more and no less, focusing carefully on the needs of each individual student,” Marcus said in a written statement. “While I am sad to leave colleagues for whom I have so much respect and affection, I am heartened to know that I am leaving the institution in excellent hands.”

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos praised Marcus in a written statement for “efficiently and effectively” resolving open civil rights investigations in education. OCR launched more than three times more “proactive civil rights investigations” in 2019 than the Obama administration did over eight years, the release said.

“I am so thankful for Ken’s strong leadership over the last two years,” DeVos said. “While we are sad to see him go, I know in his next professional chapter he will further build on his successful career of advocating for the civil rights of America’s students.”

Marcus will be succeeded by Kimberly Richey, principal deputy assistant secretary for civil rights, who will be acting assistant secretary, the release said.

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