office of civil rights opens new proactive, technical assistance office
U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has announced that a new technical assistance office will be opened to serve as a FREE national civil rights compliance resource for colleges, universities and other schools. The new office will be called the “OPEN Center” – short for “Outreach, Prevention, Education and Non-discrimination”. The OPEN Center will be housed within the Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and will operate out of OCR’s Headquarters’ offices in Washington, D.C. According to Secretary DeVos, the OPEN Center will “focus on proactive compliance with federal civil rights laws” and “provide assistance and support to schools, educators, families, and students to ensure better awareness of the requirements and protections of federal non-discrimination laws.” Technical assistance has long been of the three main tools used by OCR to promote compliance with the federal civil rights laws it enforces, along with complaint investigations and compliance reviews. The new OPEN Center will seek to work directly with institutions upfront – by providing “targeted support” — to help institutions come into compliance with federal civil rights law prior to (and hopefully in lieu of) the filing of an OCR complaint. The new OPEN Center does not have a webpage on the Department’s website yet, but it can be reached by email at OPEN@ed.gov.