Rosen, Lankford press education secretary to designate official to oversee antisemitism investigations

The lawmakers also said that the department must hold schools ‘accountable using every available tool, up to and including withholding federal funding’

U.S. Senate

Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and James Lankford (R-OK)

Responding to the deluge of new investigations into antisemitism on college campuses since Oct. 7 and the subsequent war in Gaza, Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and James Lankford (R-OK) wrote to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on Monday to call on him to appoint a dedicated official to oversee the Department of Education’s efforts to fight antisemitism.

The lawmakers also said that the department must hold schools “accountable using every

available tool, up to and including withholding federal funding” when they fail to protect Jewish students as “too many” have.

“Far more work needs to be done to hold schools accountable for their failure to protect Jewish students on college campuses, including by swiftly resolving pending investigations related to antisemitism,” they continued.

Rosen and Lankford said Cardona should “designate a senior official with the responsibility of overseeing the Department’s efforts to counter antisemitic discrimination in higher education,” in consultation with the Senate and House antisemitism task forces. Rosen and Lankford lead the Senate task force.

They said the official’s responsibilities should include informing students about how they can file complaints, communicating with schools about their duties to protect students who are perceived to be Jewish or Israeli from discrimination and making policy recommendations to Cardona.

A similar structure is part of the Countering Antisemitism Act, a bill led in the Senate by Rosen and Lankford, which would also implement various other mechanisms to combat antisemitism across the federal government. It’s not clear when or if that bill will move forward given political headwinds

The senators also asked Cardona to provide a report and briefing to Congress on the status of the department’s investigations into antisemitism, with a focus on the number of complaints that have been pending for over six months, why such complaints are still unresolved and when the department expects to resolve them.

Cardona has said that the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has been severely overstretched since Oct. 7, given the rise in complaints of antisemitism and other forms of discrimination, with investigators handling 50 cases each.

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