President Joe Biden announced Thursday he plans to nominate Catherine Lhamon, who served as the Obama-era assistant secretary for civil rights at the U.S. Education Department, to that same post in his administration.
Lhamon, a former American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney, has served as deputy assistant to Biden and deputy director of the Domestic Policy Council for Racial Justice and Equity where, according to a White House press release, she “manages the President’s equity policy portfolio.”
My daughter tonight: “they look so powerful. All three of them.” I am so grateful for leadership my children can believe in. pic.twitter.com/i68hJjAicO
— Catherine E. Lhamon (@CatherineLhamon) April 29, 2021
During her tenure in the Obama administration, the education department’s civil rights office dramatically increased investigations into gender and racial discrimination, and released Title IX directives that created vast changes in how sexual misconduct claims were handled on college campuses.
Working with the Obama-era Department of Justice in 2016, Lhamon released joint guidance that directed publicly funded schools to make biological sex subservient to gender identity.
Subsequently, the Trump administration eliminated many of the Obama-era directives and developed a new Title IX rule that focused on justice for both alleged victims of sexual misconduct and accused students.
In 2016, former President Obama appointed Lhamon to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which she chaired until January when she became California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) legal affairs secretary.
In July 2019, as chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights , Lhamon pressed the Trump White House and Congress to continue the Obama-era race-based school discipline practices that rely on leniency for students of color.
The Trump administration had previously revoked the Obama administration’s 2014 “Dear Colleague” letter, following a federal school safety commission report that found race-based student discipline practices “may have paradoxically contributed to making schools less safe.”
Under Lhamon’s leadership, however, six members of the commission filed a report, titled “Beyond Suspensions: Examining School Discipline Policies and Connections to the School-to-Prison Pipeline for Students of Color with Disabilities.”
“[D]ata have consistently shown that the overrepresentation of students of color in school discipline rates is not due to higher rates of misbehavior by these students, but instead is driven by structural and systemic factors,” such as institutional racism, the report states.
Two members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights – Peter Kirsanow and Gail Heriot – dissented from the commission’s report.
Kirsanow, an attorney, a Republican congressional appointee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and chair of the board of directors of the Center for New Black Leadership, told Breitbart News Lhamon’s nomination “confirms, as if there were any doubt, that the Department of Education is going full woke.”
“Fueled by the Biden administration’s proposed rule that would give priority funding to Critical Race Theory programs, public schools will be immersed in identity-driven discourse,” he added. “Parents alarmed by the progressive indoctrination currently pervading public schools ain’t seen nothing yet.”
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona stated he was “thrilled” to hear of Lhamon’s nomination:
Catherine has devoted her career to ensuring equity is at the core of all her work. She has a strong record of fighting for communities of color and underserved communities, whether as the current Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council, the former chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, or as a civil rights educator at Georgetown University.
Cardona said he knows Lhamon “will continue to fight for fairness, equity, and justice for all of America’s students.”