Sixty years ago, in its landmark decision in Brown v. Board of
Education, the Supreme Court held that the intentional segregation of
students on the basis of race in public schools violates the Fourteenth
Amendment to the U. S. Constitution. Subsequent federal legislation and
court decisions also mandate that school officials not discriminate against
students on the basis of sex, national origin, language barrier, religion,
or disabilities. The Educational Opportunities Section enforces these statutes
and court decisions in a diverse array of cases involving elementary and
secondary schools and institutions of higher education.
Specifically, the Educational Opportunities Section is responsible for enforcing Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, and religion in public schools and institutions of higher learning; the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974 which, among other things, requires states and school districts to provide English Language Learner (ELL) students with appropriate services to overcome language barriers; and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Section also plays a significant role in enforcing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin by recipients of federal funds), Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex by recipients of federal funds), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability by recipients of federal funds). The Section may intervene in private suits alleging violations of education-related anti-discrimination statutes and the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. The Section also represents the Department of Education in lawsuits.
Review the Department of Justice's and Department of Education's jointly-issued guidance.
Dear Colleague Letter on the Rights of All Children to Enroll in Public Schools
The Civil Rights Division is committed to working to end bullying, harassment, and discrimination in schools against all students, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) students. We enforce federal laws that protect all students from discrimination and harassment at school because of their race, sex, national origin, disability, or religion.