As part of its initiative to address religious discrimination, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights launched a new website with resources to address religious discrimination in public schools. The Department of Education now requires schools to document and report instances of religious-based discrimination through its online data platform. OCR also created and posted an updated complaint form to clarify that religious discrimination also can be reported.
OCR’s new mandate on public schools comes despite the fact that, as OCR itself admits, “[n]one of the laws OCR enforces expressly addresses religious discrimination.” OCR appears to say that it has authority over religious-based discrimination because Title VI (one of the laws OCR enforces) prohibits discrimination, including harassment, on the basis of shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics, or citizenship or residency.
Please contact Pam Simaga or Jennifer Mueller with questions about OCR’s new reporting requirement.