Federal education officials need twice as much money to keep up with a flood of complaints alleging discrimination against students with disabilities and others in the nation’s schools, advocates say.

In letters to President Joe Biden and key leaders in Congress, 91 disability and civil rights organizations say that funding for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights should be doubled next year.

The civil rights office is charged with investigating discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability and age in programs funded by the Education Department. In addition to enforcement, the office is also responsible for issuing policy guidance and regulations, offering technical assistance and collecting and disseminating data.

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The Office for Civil Rights received 18,804 complaints in 2022, the most ever, according to the office’s most recent annual report, including 6,390 complaints related to disability discrimination.

In their correspondence this month, the groups say they expect complaint numbers to continue rising and noted that the civil rights office also has more than 13,000 pending investigations going back almost two decades. As of last week, the Office for Civil Rights said that it is currently investigating 4,775 complaints of disability discrimination at elementary, secondary and postsecondary institutions.

“Although OCR received more than six times as many complaints in 2022 as the office received in 1981, the number of staff was cut in half over that same time period,” the groups wrote. “While we commend OCR for resolving 16,515 cases in 2022, the second highest number of complaints in the office’s history, the office is still faced with a civil rights crisis in which generations of students are at risk of experiencing discrimination without adequate protection from federal civil rights laws.”

The letters signed by The Arc of the United States, the National Disability Rights Network, the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates and dozens of other groups call on lawmakers to increase the budget for the civil rights office to $280 million for the 2025 fiscal year, which starts in October. Most recently, Congress appropriated $140 million for the 2023 fiscal year, the groups said.

“For years, insufficient funding has been presented to justify either protracted or shallow responses to complaints,” the letters state. “OCR needs robust funding and sufficient staff to ensure that students and their families are supported by a department that will not tolerate discrimination and that will work to ensure access to justice for students and their families. Incomplete justice or justice delayed are both justice denied.”

Biden is expected to issue his budget request for 2025 next month. However, so far this year, lawmakers have failed to reach an agreement to fully fund the government, instead relying on a series of short-term deals.

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