OCR Snapshot – Greater Transparency: OCR Publishes Online List of All Open Cases

By Debbie Osgood and Jonathan Helwink

The website for the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR), now includes a complete list of all open cases under investigation at OCR.  Unlike the widely-cited “Title IX Tracker,” which includes open OCR sexual violence cases at colleges and universities, OCR’s new list includes:  all schools and all of the civil rights laws enforced by OCR.  This means that the list includes cases open against colleges, universities, and elementary and secondary school districts and that the issues include alleged discrimination on the basis of sex, race, national origin, color, disability, or age, and under the Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act.  You can find the most recent list here.

Here are some interesting statistics from the database so far:

  • Total number of searchable records for all allegations: 8,306
  • Specific types of cases include:
    • Race and National Origin Discrimination: 1,772 (21%)
    • Sex Discrimination: 1,676 (20%)
    • Disability Discrimination: 4,709 (57%)
    • Age Discrimination: 147 (1.7%)
    • Boy Scouts Act: 2 (under 1%)

The list is searchable by type of discrimination and, under each type of discrimination, there are options to look for the cases by specific category. Regarding sex discrimination, for example, you can look for cases relating to athletics or sexual violence.

OCR, which plans to publish updates to the list on the first Wednesday of each month, emphasized that an institution’s inclusion on the list does not mean that it violated a federal anti-discrimination statute. Instead, inclusion means that a complaint was filed with OCR and the agency determined that an investigation should be opened or that the agency has opened a compliance review.

The list will not include cases that are being evaluated by the agency, i.e. cases where OCR has received a complaint, but has not yet made a decision as to whether to open a case, or cases that OCR has closed.

The list, which is also searchable by state or the institution’s name, is organized according to the types of discrimination issues under investigation and not by the number of open investigations at an institution. As a result, a school may appear in search results multiple times if OCR is investigating the school for more than one type of alleged discrimination, even if the allegations stem from a single case. Similarly, a school may appear only once in the search results if OCR is investigating it for only one type of alleged discrimination, even if there are multiple open cases.