Educational Opportunities Section

Educational Opportunities Section

Thurgood Marshall Memorial; Annapolis, MD


en EspañolSixty 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 disability. 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 gives the Attorney General authority to address certain complaints of discrimination against students based on 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 Learner students with appropriate services to overcome language barriers; and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination based on disability by state and local entities, including schools.

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), with respect to recipients of funding from the Department of Justice. 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.

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Featured Items

Fact Sheet: Combating Discrimination Against AANHPI and MASSA Students

On June 6, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, and the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders issued a fact sheet that includes examples of forms of discrimination that members of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) and Muslim, Arab, Sikh, and South Asian (MASSA) communities commonly face. 

Fact Sheet | PDF

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Departments of Justice and Education Issue Guidance to Ensure Equal Opportunities for English Learner Students
The Departments of Education and Justice issued a joint guidance reminding states, school districts and schools of their obligations under federal law to ensure that English learner students have equal access to a high-quality education and the opportunity to achieve their full academic potential.

Guidance (English) (Spanish) Additional information

The Departments of Justice and Education issued an updated set of guidance documents to all public school districts reminding them of their obligation under federal law to provide equal educational opportunities to all children residing in their districts, and to offer assistance to ensure they are complying with the law.



Shaheena Simons


Report a civil rights violation


Educational Opportunities Section
(202) 514-4092
1-877-292-3804 (toll-free)
(202) 514-8337 (Fax)

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