Today, hundreds of community activists from 18 cities are descending on the U.S. Department of Education in Washington to protest school closings that they say unfairly disadvantage minority students.
Originally billed as a “hearing,” it’s more of a listening session between representatives of the department and these activists—some of whom are from Chicago, the hometown of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. My colleague Jackie Zubrzycki will tweet from @district_doss and blog over at District Dossier.
In fact, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the department’s office for civil rights is “investigating” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to close more than two dozen low-performing schools.
“Investigating” might be too strong a word. The civil rights office evaluates every complaint that comes into the office—and just as you can sue anybody in court, you can pretty much complain about anything to the civil rights office. Whether you win your case is another story.
Education Department spokesman Daren Briscoe wouldn’t comment on the specifics of the New York complaint, but did emphasize that the civil rights office operates on a “complaint-driven process” and takes a look at all complaints. He also pointed out that, to date, the office has investigated a number of complaints related to school closings and hasn’t found evidence of civil rights violations in any of them.