Betsy DeVos blasts Biden admin's 'sickening move' to limit data collection on sexual assault by teachers

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FIRST ON FOX: The Biden administration’s latest move to limit sexual assault data collection shows that it’s a “wholly owned subsidiary of the teacher union bosses,” former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos told Fox News.

Her comments came after the Education Department proposed rolling back Trump-era data collection on teacher-student sexual assault. 

“This is a sickening move, and every American should be outraged,” she said in a statement Tuesday. 

FILE – In this Aug. 12, 2020, file photo Education Secretary Betsy DeVos arrives for an event in the State Dining room of the White House in Washington. As millions of American children start the school year online, the Trump administration is hoping to convert their parents’ frustration and anger into newfound support for school choice policies that DeVos has long championed but struggled to advance nationally.(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

“There is no rational way to justify sweeping teachers sexually assaulting students under the rug. The only explanation is that the Biden Administration is a wholly owned subsidiary of the teacher union bosses, who have long tried to cover up teachers behaving badly,” said DeVos.

“While I was in Washington, we stopped the unions from ‘passing the trash’ — relocating predator teachers without disclosing their conduct to the new district. And we brought districts like Chicago to account and held them responsible for years of hiding hundreds of sexual abuse cases. If you wonder why American families have lost all faith in the education system, this is another example as to why,” continued the former secretary of education. 

Data collection, under last week’s proposal, would continue to include the number of documented incidents at a given school, but would retire Trump-era reporting on “rape or attempted rape, or sexual assault” allegations that were followed by “a resignation or retirement prior to final discipline or termination.”

DeVos reportedly added those provisions for 2020-2021 data collection, but that was delayed due to COVID-19.

Tustin, CA – August 12: Students make their way to class for the first day of school at Tustin Ranch Elementary School in Tustin, CA on Wednesday, August 11, 2021. 
(Photo by Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images))

 An Education Department spokesperson defended the move as a way to “reduce burden and duplication of data.”

“The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) strives to ensure the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) data are an accurate and comprehensive depiction of student access to educational opportunities in school districts,” the spokesperson told Fox News.

“For the 2021-22 CRDC, OCR will continue to collect data on the number of documented incidents of offenses committed by school staff, including rape or attempted rape, and sexual assault. These are data the CRDC has collected since 2015-16.  We propose retiring data on the number of allegations made against school staff to reduce burden and duplication of data. This is a proposal and OCR welcomes feedback on this proposal from the public during the 60-day comment period” (emphasis in bold by the spokesperson).

It’s one of several data elements that the Education Department has proposed retiring, including information about other alleged criminal activity at the school. 

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos listens during a visit to Florida Virtual School in Orlando on Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

The Department suggested retiring the following elements: “Whether any of the school’s students, faculty, or staff died as a result of a homicide committed at the school,” “Whether there has been at least one incident at the school that involved a shooting”; “Number of allegations made against a school staff member of rape or attempted rape, or sexual assault that occurred at the school, which were followed by a determination that the school staff member was responsible or not responsible for the offense”; “Number of allegations made against a school staff member of rape or attempted rape, or sexual assault that occurred at the school, which had a determination that remained pending”; “Number of allegations made against a school staff member of rape or attempted rape, or sexual assault that occurred at the school, which were followed by a duty reassignment prior to final discipline or termination.”

According to last week’s press release, the department is adding data elements related to COVID-19 and students with disabilities who receive special education. It’s also including a “non-binary option to male/female data categories for those schools and districts that already collect that data.”

The department’s latest move comes at a time of heightened tension surrounding not only sexuality, gender and sexual assault in public schools. Virginia is still reeling from the alleged sexual assault in Loudoun County Public Schools that rocked its gubernatorial race this fall, while parents have raised concerns about students being asked about their gender and sexuality.

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