A few months into the Trump administration, the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights circulated a memo to agency investigators. They were no longer required to consider “systemic” bias when presented with a single claim of discrimination. Instead, the agency’s goal was to swiftly rule on individual complaints.
On its own, it was a small move. But a year and a half later, it is clear that the 2017 memo marked the start of a steady march toward narrowing the agency’s approach to racial discrimination and civil rights enforcement.
The new approach stems from a view that President Barack Obama’s administration stretched beyond the law in setting rules and guidelines for schools and opened so many discrimination investigations that the system became clogged with cases.