The Senate confirmed leftist activist Catherine Lhamon Wednesday to take up her previous role in the Obama administration as assistant secretary for the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the U.S. Education Department.
Vice President Kamala Harris broke the 50-50 tie in the Senate vote to facilitate the confirmation of Lhamon, an extremely controversial nominee.
“With this confirmation, our nation has once again gained a champion who will work each day to ensure that our public schools and institutions of higher education become ever fairer and more just,” said Biden Education Secretary Miguel Cardona in a statement.
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
The secretary added:
In this role, she will lead the Department’s vital efforts to ensure our schools and college campuses are free from discrimination on the basis of race, sex, and disability and to protect all students’ civil rights in education. Catherine is one of the strongest civil rights leaders in America and has a robust record of fighting for communities that are historically and presently underserved. Catherine will continue fighting for fairness, equity, and justice for all of America’s students, and I cannot wait for her to join the team.”
Several key actions taken by the Obama-era education department can be directly attributed to Lhamon, as Education Week noted.
Lhamon helped draft the 2016 guidance to schools directing them to allow transgender students to use bathroom and locker room facilities that correspond to their gender identity, not biological sex.
The left-wing activist signed off on guidance in 2014 that told schools they could be investigated for violating federal civil rights law for racial disparities in their discipline decisions.
Lhamon also issued the Title IX guidance that placed cases involving alleged campus sexual assaults in the hands of college administrators who held what many referred to as “kangaroo courts” as they denied due process rights to accused students.
The Trump administration rescinded the guidance about policies dealing with sexual assault on campus in 2018.
Lhamon criticized the new Trump-era guidelines in May 2020, asserting on Twitter former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos “presides over taking us back to the bad old days, that predate my birth, when it was permissible to rape and sexually harass students with impunity.”
.@BetsyDeVosED presides over taking us back to the bad old days, that predate my birth, when it was permissible to rape and sexually harass students with impunity. Today’s students deserve better, including fair protections consistent with law https://t.co/Kxn5teeYnE
— Catherine E. Lhamon (@CatherineLhamon) May 6, 2020
As Education Week reported, during her confirmation hearing in July, Lhamon told senators Title IX protects students against gender identity discrimination as well as that pertaining to sexual orientation. She added that, if confirmed, she would reinstate the Obama-era policy on racial disparities in discipline practices.
A former American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney, Lhamon 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.”
In 2016, 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 stated.
Kirsanow, an attorney and chair of the board of directors of the Center for New Black Leadership, told Breitbart News in May 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.”