U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights Resolves Harassment Cases in Park City School District

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

The district has committed to rectifying violations and concerns identified by OCR and ensuring compliance 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 in response to harassment based on race, national origin, sex, and disability.

OCR’s investigation revealed that the district received over 180 reports of students harassing their peers based on race, national origin, sex, and disability during the school years 2021-22 and 2022-23. While the district did take action in disciplining harassing students, it fell short in addressing repeated harassment targeting Black, Asian, Jewish students, and incidents of harassment based on sex, such as slurs, threats, name-calling, gestures, symbols, and assaults, negatively impacting their educational environment.

Despite some efforts, the district’s responses to the repeated harassment did not meet federal civil rights obligations. The district failed to investigate allegations of race-based and antisemitic harassment adequately, take effective steps to mitigate hostile environments resulting from such harassment, and provide necessary information to complainants regarding supportive measures and formal complaint procedures for sexual harassment.

Additionally, OCR noted that the district’s Title IX coordinator did not maintain all records related to responses to actual notice of sexual harassment as required by the Department’s 2020 Title IX regulations. These shortcomings in Title VI and Title IX compliance left students vulnerable to ongoing denigrating terms, physical assaults, and inadequate responses to discrimination based on race, national origin, and sex.

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