Key Democrat Calls for DeVos to Remove Top Civil-Rights Official

Updated (7/17/2017, 6:53 p.m.) with statement from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

The top Democrat on the Senate education committee, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, is calling for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to remove Candice E. Jackson as the top civil-rights official in the Education Department after her “callous” comments on campus sexual assault.

“In the three months she has been acting head of the Office for Civil Rights, Candice Jackson’s words and actions have made it clear why Secretary DeVos has chosen to shield her from scrutiny by not formally nominating her for the position and therefore not giving people across the country an opportunity to hear her views on and plans for this critical office and its mission,” Ms. Murray said in a statement.

In an interview with The New York Times, published last Wednesday, Ms. Jackson said campus sexual-assault investigations have not been fair to both parties involved. Most cases, she added, lack “even an accusation that these accused students overrode the will of a young woman.”

“Rather, the accusations — 90 percent of them — fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right,’” Ms. Jackson said.

Ms. Jackson apologized for her remarks in a statement issued Wednesday evening. “My words in The New York Times poorly characterized the conversations I’ve had with countless groups of advocates. What I said was flippant, and I am sorry,” she said.

But the apology is no salve, the senator said.

“Ms. Jackson’s callous, insensitive, and egregious comments regarding sexual assault on college campuses crossed a serious line,” Ms. Murray continued. This, she added, was the “final straw.”

In a written statement released late Monday, Ms. DeVos said that Ms. Jackson had apologized for her comments, which “reflect neither my position nor the position of the department.”

“They also did not reflect Candice’s position and values,” the statement continued. “Candice is a valuable part of the administration and an unwavering advocate for the civil rights of all students.”

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