Fearing a possible defeat for his nominee in committee, President Bush used his power to make appointments during Congressional recesses to name Gerald A. Reynolds to head the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education. The regulatory lawyer from Kansas holds very little experience in educational and civil rights issues and is a vocal opponent of affirmative action. During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, and Labor Committee in February, Committee Chair, Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), challenged Reynolds qualifications for the post citing his “lack of education policy experience and his longstanding hostility to basic civil rights laws.”
As part of his duties, Reynolds will be responsible for enforcing civil rights laws affecting school and universities, addressing complaints about racial discrimination, enforcing Title IX laws, and addressing the concerns of students with disabilities. He will serve as a recess appointment until the end of the year unless confirmed by the Senate before then.