Friday, February 17, 2017

Beyond DeVos, What 5 Key Trump Appointees Could Mean For Schools : NPR Ed : NPR

Beyond DeVos, What 5 Key Trump Appointees Could Mean For Schools : NPR Ed : NPR:

Beyond DeVos, What 5 Key Trump Appointees Could Mean For Schools

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l-r: Ryan Zinke, the nominee for Interior secretary; Attorney General Jeff Sessions; Judge Neil Gorsuch, Supreme Court nominee; Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price.
Getty Images/NPR

The action in the U.S. school system is overwhelmingly local. But the federal government, and the courts, have an important hand in many issues that touch classrooms — from civil rights to international programs of study. We looked at the records of some of President Trump's key appointees to see how they might affect education in the years to come.
Jeff Sessions, Attorney General (confirmed)
In his first two days in office, Attorney General Sessions appeared to reverse course on the previous administration's pursuit of transgender student protections under Title IX, which bans sex discrimination in education programs that receive federal funding.
According to the Washington Blade, his office withdrew a motion for a partial stay of a Texas court ruling from last summer, and moved to cancel oral arguments that were scheduled for Feb. 14. The Texas court had prohibited the Obama administration from enforcing guidance on the treatment of transgender students, such as allowing students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their preference.
When voting against the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009, Sessions stated, "Today, I'm not sure women or people with different sexual orientations face that kind of discrimination. I just don't see it."
The Department of Justice is charged in certain circumstances with enforcing prohibitions on discrimination in schools and universities. For example, DOJ has historically filed "consent decrees," detailed agreements on how to desegregate school systems.
As The Atlantic reported, civil rights groups are expressing concern that this enforcement could be curtailed under Sessions' Department of Justice, and that the Department of Education's own Office for Civil Rights could be downsized or merged with DOJ.
To take an example, under the Obama administration OCR investigated more than 200 higher education institutions on sexual assault. If Sessions does take over the OCR, then the future of those open investigations would be uncertain.
Neil Gorsuch, Supreme Court (nominated)
Judge Gorsuch has been involved in several rulings that touch on various areas of education, including school discipline and student rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA.
Last year, he dissented from a circuit panel ruling in A.M. v. Holmesa case where a New Mexico seventh-grader was handcuffed for disrupting class, as Education Week reported.
The majority ruled that the school police officer was immune from liability. "[A]ny reasonable officer," should know, wrote Gorsuch in the dissent, "that arresting a now compliant class clown for burping was going a step too far."
In another case involving school discipline, Hawker v. Sandy City Corp, where an officer twisted a 9-year-old's hand in a "control hold," pushed him against a wall and handcuffed him, Gorsuch joined the majority ruling that no excessive force was used.
Gorsuch's opinions in three different cases all tended toward limiting the responsibilities of school districts toward students with autism and other conditions — for example, if they leave school of their own accord out of frustration. IDEA's standard of a "free appropriate public education," reads Gorsuch's opinion in one of these cases, "is not an onerous one."
Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State (confirmed)
The State Department might not seem that involved in education at first glance, but Beyond DeVos, What 5 Key Trump Appointees Could Mean For Schools : NPR Ed : NPR:


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