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

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education has resolved a complaint of antisemitic harassment against the Red Clay Consolidated School District in Delaware, which was filed in June 2023. The district has agreed to adhere to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in handling cases of discrimination based on race, color, and national origin, including instances of antisemitic harassment targeting its students.

The OCR investigation discovered that the student in question was subjected to harassment by her peers due to being Jewish. Examples of this harassment included classmates hurling a paper airplane at her that had offensive messages such as “Blood of the Jews” and scrawled swastikas and bloody imagery. About ten minutes later, her classmates raised their arms in a “Heil Hitler” salute directed towards her. A week later, she found a swastika drawn on her desk. Additionally, swastikas were drawn on a desk she used in a classroom on two separate occasions during the same school year.

Although the district responded to most of the incidents of harassment experienced by the student, the responses were often disorganized, inconsistently enforced, and not consistently documented. These responses also did not consistently include effective or timely measures to address the impact of the harassment on the student and other students. Moreover, the district failed to address the escalating and repeated incidents adequately. To address these concerns identified by the OCR, the district has agreed to the following:

  • Offer reimbursement to the student’s parents for any counseling, academic, or therapeutic services they sought for their child as a result of the antisemitic harassment.
  • Promote an anti-harassment statement widely.
  • Review and ensure that its policies and procedures adequately address Title VI’s prohibition on discrimination based on race, color, and national origin, including discrimination based on a student’s real or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics.
  • Create or revise its procedure for documenting investigations into reports of harassment.
  • Provide annual training on Title VI’s prohibition of discrimination based on race, color, and national origin, including on the basis of shared ancestry and ethnic characteristics, to all administrators, faculty, and staff.
  • Provide annual training to school staff, including administrators involved in processing, investigating, and resolving complaints and reports of racial, color, and national origin discrimination, including harassment based on shared ancestry and ethnic characteristics.
  • Offer an age-appropriate informational program for students to address racial, color, and national origin discrimination, including harassment based on shared ancestry and ethnic characteristics.
  • Conduct an audit of all 2023-2024 school year complaints related to racial, color, and national origin discrimination, including harassment based on shared ancestry and ethnic characteristics, to ensure compliance with the district’s policies and procedures.
  • Conduct an audit of incidents categorized as “Inappropriate Behavior” and “Abusive Language/Gestures” during the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school years to determine if any constitute racial, color, and national origin discrimination, including harassment based on shared ancestry and ethnic characteristics. If necessary, take appropriate steps to address the harassment in relation to affected students.
  • Conduct a climate survey among students and submit a summary of the survey results, along with proposed corrective actions, to the OCR for approval.

Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights, stated, “This important agreement ensures that the Red Clay Consolidated School District fulfills its federal civil rights obligation to provide a safe learning environment for all students, including Jewish students, without facing discriminatory harassment. We are committed to actively working with the district to protect Jewish students and all students from targeted discrimination that hinders their equal access to education.”

The letter addressed to the Red Clay Consolidated School District can be found here, and the resolution agreement is available here.

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