Office for Civil Rights Puts Texas on Notice

By Roach, Ronald | Black Issues in Higher Education, April 3, 1997 | Go to article overview

Office for Civil Rights Puts Texas on Notice


Roach, Ronald, Black Issues in Higher Education


While Texas state officials scramble to adopt

race-neutral admissions and financial aid

policies in the state's public higher education

system? the U.S. Department of Education

has opened an inquiry to determine whether

the state is complying with Title VI of the

1964 Civil Rights Act.

[The Office for Civil Rights also sent a

letter to Ohio's Gov. George V. Voinovich

announcing its renewed investigation into

the state's treatment of Central State

University. For more details, see pg. 8.]

The state of Texas, which has

adopted race-neutral policies as a result

of the 1996 U.S. Fifth Circuit Court

decision in Hopwood v. The State of Texas

banning race as a factor in University of

Texas Law School admissions, stands to

lose millions in funding from the

Department of Education if it fails to meet Title VI and comply

with related consent decrees that allow the

use of race as a factor in admissions and

financial aid.

On March 18, the U.S. Department of

Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR)

informed twenty-six members of the Texas

state legislature by letter that it "will work

with Texas officials to determine whether any

vestiges of prior discrimination are causing

discrimination to continue."

The letters, sent by Norma V. Cantu,

Department of Education assistant secretary

for OCR, were a response by the agency to

inquiries made by the legislators on whether

adopting race-neutral admissions and financial

aid policies violates Title VI and related consent decrees.

Cantu wrote in the letter that she had

written earlier to Texas Governor George

Bush to renew OCR's dialogue with Texas

officials about the state's desegregation plan

and whether the state has "eliminated the

vestiges of prior d e jure segregation in its

system of public higher education." She also

stated that the "Supreme Court has

consistently held that affirmative action

measures may be taken to remedy the effects

of prior discrimination."

Raymond C. Pierce, deputy assistant

secretary for the Office for Civil Rights at the

Department of Education, said education

department officials have begun "informal

discussions"

with Texas officials

over the state's move

towards race-neutral

policies in higher

education admissions

and financial aid. …

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