How the Office for Civil Rights Fits in the Title IX Enforcement Framework

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Mar 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

Like many administrative systems in the U.S., Title IX is a confusing law that utilizes a confusing enforcement mechanism that involves numerous different agencies and other organizations. Not the least confusing aspect of the apparatus is the Office for Civil Rights, or OCR.

Understanding how the OCR fits into the picture is essential for seeing how the whole system is supposed to work.

The Big Title IX Picture: The Department of Education

To understand Title IX and the OCR's place in enforcing it, it is helpful to go all the way back to high school civics class.

There are three branches of government in the U.S. federal system:

  1. The legislative branch, which makes the laws – this is Congress
  2. The executive branch, which enforces the laws – this is headed by the President
  3. The judicial branch, which interprets the laws – this is the court system

Many people are thrown off by the fact that the Department of Education is a part of the executive branch. It does not create any laws. Rather, it is tasked with enforcing the laws and managing the programs that have been passed and created by Congress and that deal with education.

The Department of Education includes several smaller offices. One of those is the OCR.

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR)

The OCR is headquartered in Washington, D.C., but has 12 regional offices throughout the United States, including one right here in downtown Philadelphia. Across the country, more than 500 attorneys work at the Department of Education's OCR, making it one of the largest civil rights agencies in the federal government.

All of those lawyers at the OCR are responsible for making sure that the non-discriminatory laws that have been passed by Congress are enforced in the higher education setting. These laws include:

  • Title IX's prohibition against sexual discrimination
  • Title VI's prohibition against racial discrimination
  • The Age Discrimination Act
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act

In spite of having so many lawyers on hand, the OCR is very short-staffed and cannot get involved in every case. Instead, it relies on aggrieved parties to file a complaint of discrimination with the OCR. If they do not reach out to the OCR, it is unlikely that the agency will even hear of their case.

Joseph D. Lento: Title IX and OCR Complaint Attorney

Contrary to popular belief, these OCR complaints are not strictly of use to people who are claiming that they were sexually harassed or assaulted on campus. They can also be used by students who have been accused of sexual misconduct, as well. Getting the OCR to review your case of alleged sexual misconduct can force your school to take your due process rights seriously, rather than ignore them in the school's scramble to find you in violation of their code of conduct and protect its federal funding.

Joseph D. Lento can help. As a national Title IX advisor and OCR complaint attorney, he can guide you through the shockingly complex enforcement structure of a sexual misconduct allegation. Contact him online or call his law office at (888) 535-3686.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Attorney Lento and his team represent students and others in disciplinary cases and various other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Attorney Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he and his team have sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address any school-related issue or concern anywhere in the United States.


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Contact Us Today!


If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.