Betsy DeVos, President Donald Trump’s pick to be secretary of education, apparently lifted entire phrases and sentences from sources without attribution in her written responses to a questionnaire from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
The Washington Post first flagged the phrasing similarities on Tuesday.
“Every child deserves to attend school in a safe, supportive environment where they can learn, thrive, and grow,” DeVos responded to a question about addressing the bullying of LGBTQ students.
In a statement released in May 2016, Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division under former President Barack Obama, wrote: “Every child deserves to attend school in a safe, supportive environment that allows them to thrive and grow.”
DeVos also lifted sentences directly from Education Department materials and federal statutes without attributing them to their sources, as flagged by the Washington Post.
“Opening a complaint for investigation in no way implies that the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has made a determination about the merits of the complaint,” she responded to a question about whether as secretary of education she would continue publishing a list of schools under Title IX investigations.
The same sentence appears on a Department of Education webpage on how the OCR handles complaints.
“Opening a complaint for investigation in no way implies that OCR has made a determination with regard to the merits of the complaint,” the page reads.
DeVos’ responses to the questionnaire also contain phrases that are almost identical to sections of a 1979 federal statute establishing of the Department of Education.
“The Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights is required to make an annual report to the Secretary, the President, and the Congress summarizing the compliance and enforcement activities of OCR and identify significant civil rights or compliance problems on which, in the judgment of the Assistant Secretary, adequate progress is not being made,” DeVos wrote.
The statute reads:
The Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights shall make an annual report to the Secretary, the President, and the Congress summarizing the compliance and enforcement activities of the Office for Civil Rights and identifying significant civil rights or compliance problems as to which such Office has made a recommendation for corrective action and as to which, in the judgment of the Assistant Secretary, adequate progress is not being made.
DeVos wrote in her responses that the OCR “is statutorily authorized to collect or coordinate the collection of data necessary to ensure compliance with civil rights laws within the jurisdiction of OCR.”
The statute stipulates that the assistant secretary for civil rights is authorized “to collect or coordinate the collection of data necessary to ensure compliance with civil rights laws within the jurisdiction of the Office for Civil Rights.”
Trump transition officials who handled DeVos’s nomination did not respond to questions from the Washington Post sent Tuesday morning.
Another of Trump’s appointees, Monica Crowley, faced difficulties when it came to light that she had plagiarized multiple sections of her dissertation for her Columbia University Ph.D. in international relations.
Crowley, who was Trump’s choice for a top national security communications position, later announced that she would not take a position in his administration.