Wednesday, May 6, 2015

McCarthyism Alive And Well At The OCR

With many thanks to my growing list of tweeps paying attention to Title IX sexual assault adjudication issues, including @DestinTrueheart (who first brought it to my attention), @Anneeliz1, @justthoughts19, and @walterolson, we have one of the most incredible stories on this subject that has not really been adequately explored in public. Recently, the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights loudly proclaimed a huge and accelerating backlog of sexual assault cases, with Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Tim Kaine (D-VA) making wholly predictable calls for increased funding to deal with this tsunami.
I have here in my hand a list
Lhamon said that her office's increased workload is partly of its own making. "We knew when we issued the guidance we did in 2011 calling out sexual violence as a civil rights issue, we knew that would increase the visibility of the issue," she said, referring to a Dear Colleague letter that detailed colleges' obligations regarding sexual violence on campus.
Well, yes, when you expand the meaning of the word "sexual assault" and make it cover dating squabbles that have nothing whatsoever to do with rape, yes, of course, you'll have a big increase. Except, what's that you say? The numbers actually went down in 2012? Damn, we can't have that.

Enter plan B.
Complaints of discrimination to the department have soared from 6,364 in fiscal 2009 to a record of 9,989 in the most recent fiscal year. Lhamon expects another record to be set when the current fiscal year ends in September. It is a sign that “we have the trust of the national community bringing to us their deepest hurts and asking for resolution,” she said.
She said there was no single category of grievance that accounted for the rise in complaints. But a breakdown of agency statistics show that the category of sex discrimination has grown from 391 in 2010 to 2,354 in 2014. Discrimination based on disabilities make up the largest category, or 39 percent.

Sex discrimination comprised 24 percent of total complaints. Lhamon said two individuals were responsible for filing more than 1,700 of those allegations of sex discrimination. She declined to identify them, citing confidentiality requirements.
Two people are by themselves responsible for nearly a fifth of their complaints. Who are these hyper-offended people? What organizations are these charges lodged against? What are the charges? And most importantly, why should we take seriously anything they have to say? And while, yes, sexual assault is not the same thing as sex discrimination, given Title IX's wavy domain, it's hard not to wonder that this amounts to a roving commission, with no public oversight whatsoever.

The plan to "fix" this situation involves spending
$131 million for its Office for Civil Rights, an increase of $30.7 million, so it can hire an additional 200 lawyers and investigators. That would be in addition to its current staff of 554 employees.
Which is to say, this is a boldface grab for resources. Congress needs to subpoena Lhamon and anyone else behind this charade in the DoE and discover exactly who these anonymous, and quite frankly, non-credible complainants are. It smells of a return to the era of Tailgunner Joe McCarthy and his paranoid, noxious witch hunts.

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