by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Department of Education wants to roll back a Trump-era effort to collect data on teacher-on-student sex crimes.
The department’s Office for Civil Rights will not ask school districts questions regarding teacher-on-student sexual assault allegations as part of its 2021-2022 Civil Rights Data Collection, proposed Thursday. The change is designed to “reduce burden and duplication of data,” an Education Department spokesman told the Washington Free Beacon. But critics say eliminating the question is the Biden administration’s attempt to appease teachers’ unions.
“This is the ultimate act of bowing to the teachers’ unions,” Kimberly Richey, who served as acting assistant secretary in the Office for Civil Rights in the Trump administration, told the Free Beacon. “Through this proposal, the Biden administration is actively helping schools cover up these incidents, which we were intentionally shining a light on.”
The Education Department will still ask districts to report documented cases of rape and sexual assault. But it will not ask school officials to report allegations that resulted in the resignation or retirement of the accused. Former secretary of education Betsy DeVos added those optional questions to the 2020-2021 data collection, which was delayed one year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The department also won’t ask districts to report pending cases or cases in which a school staffer was reassigned to another district school prior to the conclusion of an investigation.
Public schools’ mishandling of sexual assault cases has become a political liability for Democrats across the country. Allegations that school officials in one Northern Virginia school district covered up a double sexual assault case roiled parents just weeks before the gubernatorial election. Teacher-union-backed Democrat Terry McAuliffe lost to Republican Glenn Youngkin by 2 points in the commonwealth, where President Joe Biden handily won by a 10-point margin.
Office for Civil Rights data collected during the Trump administration found that sexual assault and rape cases surged in public schools over the past decade.