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June 13, 2018

Top Dems Seek Information on Reports of Inequities and Allegations of Harassment at Coast Guard Academy

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Reps. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, and Joe Courtney (D-CT), co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Coast Guard Caucus, sent a letter to Coast Guard Commandant Karl L. Schultz requesting information about how the Coast Guard will address the results of a recent institutional assessment that found troubling gaps in graduation rates and course pass rates for minority cadets at the Coast Guard Academy.  

“We applaud the progress that has been made at the Academy, but are deeply troubled by the results of recent institutional assessments and questions about the Academy’s climate,” the Members wrote.  “Important strides have been made to expand the diversity of incoming classes, but challenges exist in ensuring that incoming students graduate to become officers and future leaders.”

The Coast Guard Academy was the first federal service academy to use the Equity Scorecard process to determine educational outcomes at the Academy. The first step of that process was the Vital Signs report which was released in April. The next step calls for the establishment of an Equity Task Force to assess the results of the report and identify if there are policies or practices that are needed to ensure equitable outcomes at the Academy. Unfortunately, the Equity Scorecard found troubling gaps in education and course pass rates.  For example, the Equity Scorecard reported that “Black/African-American cadets have been consistently less likely to graduate than the all-cadet average.”  The Equity Scorecard also stated:

“Cumulative disparities across the four previous areas of cadet success (Admissions, Military and C/Division, Academics, and Athletics), however, suggest that ample opportunities exist for CGA to improve both the outcomes and overall academic experiences of cadets from marginalized racial/ethnic groups.  Addressing and reducing these disparities would also likely help lead to greater parity in graduation rates, which have been substantially lower for Black/African-American cadets than for others during two of the three most recent academic years.”

“We would like to know what specific steps the Academy will take in the wake of these urgent findings to identify, address, and ultimately eliminate the disparities contributing to inequitable outcomes,” the Members wrote.

The Members also expressed concern about reports that the Academy relieved the head of the management department, Captain Kevin Lopes, after an investigation found that he bullied a subordinate in early 2018.  However, media reports indicate that he continues to be a member of the permanent commissioned teaching staff at the Academy despite his removal from a leadership position.

The Members asked for documents by July 13, 2018, including convening authority memoranda, investigative reports, panel sheets, final action memoranda, and post-investigation talking points, regarding allegations of harassment or bullying made by any student or faculty member at the Academy during the past three years, the results of any investigations conducted to examine these allegations, and the terms of any settlements reached.

They also requested a briefing by July 20, 2018, on the steps being taken to respond to the results of the Equity Scorecard, address disparities in graduation rates, and respond to climate issues at the Academy.

Link to Letter

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Media contacts:
Aryele Bradford (Cummings) 202-226-5181
Adam Comis (Thompson) 202-225-9978
Tim Brown (Courtney) 202-225-4977