Nominee for Education Department's Office of Civil Rights May Face Opposition from Affirmative Action Advocates

Article excerpt

President Bush's new choice to head the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights is an African American who has conservatives' support but who may face opposition from groups that favor affirmative action.

Bush in late June nominated Gerald Reynolds, senior regulatory counsel at a Midwest utility company, to head OCR, which monitors and investigates civil rights issues for the department. Prior to joining Kansas City Power and Light in 1998, Reynolds served as president of the Center for New Black Leadership and as a legal analyst for the Center for Equal Opportunity (CEO), a Washington group that is a vocal critic of affirmative action in college admissions.

Reynolds could not be reached for comment, and the White House offered no details on the nominee's civil rights views. However, Dr. Roderick Paige, Education Secretary, praised the selection in a written statement.

"Gerry Reynolds will be working with me and the department to offer American children equal access to a quality education at all levels. His experience will strengthen our ability to make certain that all of our classrooms are safe and productive atmospheres for learning."

A representative from the Center for New Black Leadership also endorsed the nomination.

"We think he's extremely qualified, and he will follow the law," says James Golden, a center spokesman. Golden describes the center, which Reynolds headed from 1997 to 1998, as committed to color-blind equal opportunity. "We do not believe that government should engage in discrimination against any citizen based on race, color or religion."

The organization also believes that colleges and universities should not "discriminate against anyone" in the college admissions process.

Yet civil rights groups, while still collecting information on Reynolds, expressed concern. …