What do I do if I feel like I have been discriminated against at school?

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The U.S. Department of Education suggests that complaints against K-12 public schools can be addressed first to the local school district and then to the state department of education.

Colleges, universities, and other postsecondary education institutions, such as vocational-technical schools, operate with considerable autonomy and with some state supervision. To report a problem with a higher education institution you should start by determining the process at your school to register a complaint. You may want to begin your inquiry by contacting student services or talking with your advisor. An additional avenue would be to contact your state department of higher education to find out how they can help you resolve your problem.

The U.S. Department of Education lists offices that handle complaints regarding issues involving financial aid, fraud, waste, or abuse of federal funds, special education, and civil rights.

  • The Office of the Inspector General investigates allegations of fraud, waste, or abuse of federal educational funds, including federal student aid funds.
  • Federal Student Aid will informally conduct impartial fact-finding about your complaints. This office will recommend solutions, but does not have the authority to reverse decisions. If your student loan complaint is justified, it will work with you and the office, agency, or company involved in the problem.
  • The Office of Special Education Programs is responsible for monitoring state and local compliance to federal special education laws.
  • The Office for Civil Rights is responsible for investigating any claims of discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age.

Last update or review: October 09, 2012