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U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights Announces Resolution Addressing Responses to Harassment Based on Race, Sex, and Disability and to Antisemitic Harassment in Park City School District in Utah

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On March 20, 2024, the Park City School District in Utah signed a resolution agreement to resolve the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) investigation of seven complaints of unlawful harassment filed in 2023. The complaints alleged that ongoing harassment based on race, national origin (including antisemitic harassment), disability, and sex created hostile environments for students at the district’s middle school, junior high, and high school (the three schools).

The district entered into an agreement to address violations and concerns OCR identified and to ensure the district complies with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 when responding to harassment based on race, national origin, sex, and disability.

OCR found the district received more than 180 reports of students harassing other students based on race, national origin, sex, and disability during school years 2021-22 and 2022-23. OCR also found that the district took some action to address this harassment, such as disciplining harassing students.

However, the district’s responses to repeated harassment of Black, Asian, and Jewish students and to harassment based on sex – including slurs, threats, name-calling, gestures, symbols, and assaults, among other actions that negatively affected their access to education – did not meet the district’s federal civil rights obligations.

In particular, the district repeatedly failed to investigate allegations of race-based and antisemitic harassment, to take effective steps to end hostile environments based on race and antisemitic harassment that the district confirmed, and to provide complainants information about the availability of supportive measures and how to file a formal complaint of sexual harassment.

In addition, OCR found that the district Title IX coordinator did not maintain all records of the district’s responses to actual notice of sexual harassment, as required by the Department’s 2020 Title IX regulations. These district failures to fulfill Title VI and Title IX responsibilities left children in school without effective responses to being repeatedly called denigrating terms that harassed students based on their race, national origin, and sex, and being physically assaulted. OCR also identified concerns regarding the district’s record keeping under Title VI and Section 504, and its apparent inadequate responses to students harassing Latino students and students with disabilities.

To resolve the violations and compliance concerns OCR identified, the district agreed to:

  • Review incidents of harassment based on race, national origin, sex, and disability in school year 2022-23, using a list of specific incidents provided by OCR, to determine for OCR’s approval what further action is needed to provide an equitable resolution of each incident.
  • Review, revise, and disseminate districtwide policies and procedures, including for handling reports of harassment and maintaining records related to harassment.
  • Implement new forms for tracking reports of harassment and the district’s responses.
  • Coordinate the district’s compliance with Title IX through the Title IX coordinator.
  • Notify students and parents about the district’s prohibitions of harassment based on race, national origin, sex, and disability and how to report harassment on these bases.
  • Conduct a districtwide climate assessment focused on student-to-student harassment.
  • Train all employees on Title IX coordination and related policies, procedures, and forms.
  • Implement a plan to educate students and parents about reporting harassment. And,
  • Report to OCR about how the district responded to reports and complaints of harassment based on race, national origin, sex, or disability in school years 2024-25 and 2025-26.

“Today’s agreement commits the Park City School District to fulfill its federal civil rights obligation to ensure that all of its students can learn without discriminatory harassment in its schools,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon. “We look forward to active work with this district going forward to correct the gauntlet of harassment its students have had to endure, and to protect all students from targeted discrimination that impedes their equal access to education.”

The resolution letter to Park City School District and the resolution agreement are available on the Office for Civil Rights website.

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