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How NAACP Lawsuit Against U.S. Dept. of Education Affects St

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How NAACP Lawsuit Against U.S. Dept. of Education Affects State
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Commencement Exercises in Mississippi
Paul Boger

The nation's premier civil rights organization is taking the U.S. Department of Education to court. MPB's Desare Frazier takes a look at what the case means for Mississippi.

The National NAACP recently filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education and it's Director, Betsy DeVos. Attorney Khyla Craine is with the NAACP. She says the education department's civil rights division can now dismiss multiple complaints when brought by one person or an organization without determining whether they're valid or not. Craine says it blocks the NAACP from doing its job.

"We could be filing a complaint against several different colleges and universities that have problematic policies across the country and if we submitted that to the Office of Civil Rights, they would based upon this change in their manual be able to just dismiss it," said Craine.

Craine says there's also no appeals process in place when a complaint is found to be without merit. She says the changes went into affect in March with no public notice or comment period as required. Corey Wiggins is with the Mississippi NAACP. Wiggins says they do receive complaints and he's concerned about the affect on students. Wiggins says some schools in the state are still under desegregation orders.

"Historically Mississippi has had challenges not only just when you think about race-based discrimination, but gender, also sexuality and what this does is really limits the opportunity to really address those types of civil rights complaints in a very serious way," said Wiggins.

Wiggins says families should still come forward when they have a concern. The NAACP argues the changes impact children with disabilities as well. In a statement the Mississippi Department of Education says it doesn't have the legal authority to investigate discriminatory or retaliatory matters. The National Federation of the Blind is a Partner in the lawsuit.