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“Dear Colleague” Letter

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the United States Department of Education (Department) is responsible for enforcing Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age by recipients of Federal financial assistance (recipient(s)) from the Department.1 Although a significant portion of the complaints filed with OCR in recent years have included retaliation claims, OCR has never before issued public guidance on this important subject. The purpose of this letter is to remind school districts, postsecondary institutions, and other recipients that retaliation is also a violation of Federal law.2 This letter seeks to clarify the basic principles of retaliation law and to describe OCR’s methods of enforcement.