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Education Department shed more than 550 positions under DeVos: report

The Hill logo The Hill 6/14/2018 Aris Folley
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The Education Department cut more than 550 workers between President Trump's inauguration and April of this year, according to an Inside Higher Ed report released Wednesday.

The department, led by Betsy DeVos, said the 13 percent reduction in staff came as a result of attrition and voluntary early retirement, the publication reported.

But DeVos has made deregulation - which necessitates significant staffing - a key part of her tenure as Education Secretary. Civil rights workers, according to Inside Higher Ed, have been part of those rollbacks, despite the department's reported aims to reduce a backlog of federal complaints.

Former department staff members say the Trump administration is purposefully choosing not to fill vacant positions following months of continuous departures.

The Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) and the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) have seen the most significant cutbacks since January 2017, according to the publication. Since Trump took office, FSA has lost more than 100 employees - 7 percent of its staff - while OCR has lost about 70 staffers, or 11 percent of its total staff.

"There are natural fluctuations in staff during the transition to a new administration," Liz Hill, a spokeswoman for the agency, told Inside Higher Ed. "The department continues to assess its staffing needs and will backfill positions or will hire for newly created positions based on those needs."

Former department officials told the publication the agency was understaffed prior to DeVos assuming the role.

Democratic lawmakers have pressed DeVos on future hiring practices at the Education Department, but the agency could see further departures soon, the outlet notes.

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