“The mission of the Office for Civil Rights is to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation through vigorous enforcement of civil rights.”

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The Office for Civil Rights enforces several Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance from the Department of Education.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability.

Age Discrimination Act of 1975 prohibits age discrimination.

These civil rights laws enforced by OCR extend to all state education agencies, elementary and secondary school systems, colleges and universities, vocational schools, proprietary schools, state vocational rehabilitation agencies, libraries, and museums that receive U.S. Department of Education funds.

OCR’s Core Work: Preventing, identifying, ending, and remedying discrimination against America’s students. For more information about OCR, visit their website.

Areas covered by OCR may include, but are not limited to:

Admissions, recruitment, financial aid, academic programs, student treatment and services, counseling and guidance, discipline, classroom assignment, grading, vocational education, recreation, physical education, athletics, housing, and employment.

Additional Responsibilities of OCR:

OCR also has responsibilities under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which prohibits disability discrimination by public entities, whether or not they receive federal financial assistance.

As of January 8, 2002, OCR enforces the Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act (Section 9525 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001). Under the Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act, no public elementary school or State or local education agency that provides an opportunity for one or more outside youth or community groups to meet on school premises or in school facilities before or after school hours shall deny equal access or a fair opportunity to meet to, or discriminate against, any group officially affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America, or any other youth group listed in Title 36 of the United States Code as a patriotic society.

Who can file a complaint?

A complaint of discrimination can be filed by anyone who believes that an education institution that receives Federal financial assistance has discriminated against someone on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age. The person or organization filing the complaint need not be a victim of the alleged discrimination, but may complain on behalf of another person or group.

How long do I have to file a complaint?

By law, complaints of discrimination must ordinarily be filed within 180 days of the last act of discrimination. There are exceptions to the 180-day filing requirement, and the time for filing can be extended by OCR for good cause shown under certain circumstances. Please contact OCR directly if you have any questions about timeliness.

How do I file a complaint?

Visit the OCR website for instructions on how to file a complaint.
OCR Complaint Form – Electronic Version and PDF Version

Hawai’i Region
Most of OCR’s activities are conducted by its 12 enforcement officesthroughout the country. These enforcement offices are organized into 4 divisions carrying out OCR’s core work –preventing, identifying, ending, and remedying discrimination against America’s students. Three Enforcement Directors in the office of the Assistant Secretary oversee the work of, respectively, the Eastern and Southern and the Midwestern and Western divisions. OCR administrative officesin Washington, D.C., provide additional administrative support, coordination, policy development and overall leadership.

OCR regional offices map

Office for Civil Rights Seattle Office
U.S. Department of Education
915 Second Avenue, Room 3310
Seattle, WA 98174-1099
Telephone: (206) 607-1600
Facsimile: (206) 607-1601
Email: OCR.Seattle@ed.gov