Why The National Women’s Law Center Knew It Had To Sue Betsy DeVos

In her four months in office, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has already racked up her share of critics, who have raised concerns about her qualifications, her support for school choice programs, and her ability to protect LGBTQ students. Now, she can officially count the National Women’s Law Center as another. On Monday, the NWLC announced it filed a lawsuit against the Department of Education to hold DeVos accountable for enforcing Title IX protections for sexual assault victims.

First introduced in conjunction with the Education Amendments of 1972, Title IX was put into law to protect students from gender discrimination, sexual harassment and assault. In recent years, a number of reforms meant to help sexual assault victims on university campuses have been promoted by the Department of Education under Title IX.  However, NWLC has been disappointed by how the Department of Education has responded to their request for information on university responses to sexual assault since DeVos has been its leader.

Alexandra Brodsky, a fellow at NWLC who authored a blog post on the center’s decision to file a lawsuit, tells Bustle that the center originally filed a request to the Department of Education under the Freedom of Information Act back in January. (For those unfamiliar, the Freedom of Information Act allows American citizens to access government records for the sake of accountability and transparency.)

“In our request we asked both for the list of schools that were under investigation for sexual harassment or assault, and any resolution agreements or other documents marking the end of investigations, so we could see how the department was holding schools responsible,” Brodsky tells Bustle on the phone.

However, in the months following NWLC’s January request, there has been no response from DeVos, or anyone from the Department of Education, according to NWLC. It was this silence that pushed the NWLC to file a complaint against the DOE, which you can read here.

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