Y’all, we all know the Department of Education under Betsy DeVos ain’t shit. The RC Cola version of Dolores Umbridge has decided that nine months into the pandemic and one month before she’s out of a job is the perfect time to start processing discrimination cases related to COVID.
According to HuffPost, the department’s Office for Civil Rights has finally begun processing discrimination complaints related to the ongoing pandemic. Attorneys in the office told HuffPost in November that they’ve not been allowed to pursue these cases for the entirety of the pandemic. A spokesperson for the department told HuffPost that those attorneys were lying-ass liars who didn’t know what they’re talking about.
“This information is categorically false and represents the viewpoint of a low-level employee who has not been fully informed or brought up to speed on the clear directive given by HQ to move forward on all COVID cases without delay,” spokesperson Angela Morabito told HuffPost in early November.
Ah, yes, “low-level employee.” What class.
Morabito’s statement, like most statements from the Trump administration, was undermined by some simple facts. A email HuffPost obtained from a regional manager within the department said that “discrimination complaints related to COVID-19” would need to be overseen by “the highest levels of management.”
This was the opposite of moving “forward on all COVID cases without delay,” and essentially put a hold on all pandemic-related cases. A good amount of these cases focused on children with disabilities who were unable to receive the resources needed to continue their education throughout the pandemic.
Several families who work with disability rights advocate Marcie Lipsitt got word last month that their discrimination cases were moving forward. These families say that their children have failed to receive the education services they’re entitled to during the pandemic.
In one instance, a family told the Education Department in August that their child was being discriminated against on the basis of disability because their school district had failed to provide mandated speech and language services from March 2020 until the end of the school year. The Education Department didn’t respond to the complaint until late November.
In its response, the department said it would open an investigation into whether the school district had failed to provide a free and appropriate public education, in violation of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, which bans discrimination based on disability.
Who knows how many disabled kids have lost an entire year of education because the Department of Education didn’t feel like doing their job. Truly doing the lord’s work, those folks.
Lipsitt told HuffPost that when she contacted an attorney at the Office for Civil Rights in the fall about the delays, the attorney told her that cases related to COVID-19 are subject to a increased scrutiny, and rewriting the allegations with no mention of COVID-19 might help them get processed faster. Stephanie Onyx, a mother who filed a similar complaint, told HuffPost the office gave her similar advice.
What I find most frustrating is that there is a lack of clarity of what this increased scrutiny means. There’s also no explanation on why it’s been put in place to begin with. Maybe it’s just me, but if your job is to help people then it would make more sense to streamline that process than to add more roadblocks.
Especially in a damn pandemic.
Despite Morabito bizarrely telling HuffPost that no change has been made to the processing of cases, attorneys told HuffPost that they have been given authorizations to pursue certain claims on a case-by-case basis. The Department of Education has yet to release an official statement on the matter, because, well, look who’s in charge y’all.