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U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights Reaches Agreement to Resolve Antisemitic Harassment in Red Clay Consolidated School District

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The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) resolved a complaint of antisemitic harassment of a student filed against the Red Clay Consolidated School District in Delaware in June 2023. The district entered into an agreement to ensure it complies with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when responding to discrimination based on race, color, and national origin, including antisemitic harassment of its students.

OCR’s investigation established that peers targeted the student for harassment because she is Jewish, including classmates throwing a paper airplane at her with “Blood of the Jews” and multiple swastikas as well as bloody imagery scrawled on it. Approximately ten minutes later, in the same area of the school, classmates raised their arms in a “Heil Hitler” salute apparently towards the student. One week later, the student discovered a swastika drawn on her desk. During the same school year, swastikas were drawn on a desk that the student used in a classroom on two separate occasions.

While the district responded to most harassing incidents the student experienced, these responses were often haphazard; were inconsistently enforced as well as inconsistently reflected in district documentation; did not consistently include effective or timely steps to mitigate the effects of the harassment on the student or other students; and did not appear to respond to escalating and repeated incidents. To resolve the concerns OCR identified regarding the effectiveness of the district response, the district agreed to:

  • Offer to reimburse the student’s parents for past counseling, academic, or therapeutic services they obtained for the student as a result of the antisemitic harassment the student experienced.
  • Widely publicize an anti-harassment statement.
  • Review its policies and procedures to ensure that they adequately address Title VI’s prohibition on discrimination based on race, color, and national origin, including discrimination based on a student’s actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics.
  • Develop or revise its procedure for documenting the school’s investigation of reports of harassment.
  • Annually train all administrators, faculty, and staff at the school on Title VI’s prohibition of discrimination based on race, color, and national origin, including on the basis of shared ancestry and ethnic characteristics.
  • Annually train school staff, including school-level administrators who are directly involved in processing, investigating, and/or resolving complaints and other reports of discrimination based on race, color, and national origin, including harassment based on shared ancestry and ethnic characteristics.
  • Provide an age-appropriate informational program for students at the school to address discrimination based on race, color, and national origin, including harassment based on shared ancestry and ethnic characteristics.
  • Conduct an audit of all complaints received during the 2023-2024 school year addressing discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin, including harassment on the basis of shared ancestry and ethnic characteristics, to ensure consistency of the application of and compliance with the district’s policies and procedures.
  • Conduct an audit of all incidents at the school coded as “Inappropriate Behavior” and “Abusive Language/Gestures” during the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school year to determine if any of the incidents constituted discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin, including harassment on the basis of shared ancestry and ethnic characteristics, and if so, take appropriate steps to remedy the harassment on any affected students. And,
  • Conduct a climate survey with students and provide OCR a summary of the survey results and the district’s proposed corrective actions in response to the survey results for OCR approval.

“This important agreement requires the Red Clay Consolidated District to fulfill its federal civil rights obligation to ensure that all of its students, including Jewish students, can learn safely and without discriminatory harassment in its schools,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights. “We look forward to active work with this district going forward to protect Jewish students, and all students, from targeted discrimination that impedes their equal access to education.”

The letter to Red Clay Consolidated School District is available here and the resolution agreement is available here.

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