The U.S. Department of Education logs record number of discrimination complaints from schools
The Office for Civil Rights logged 19,000 discrimination complaints, doubling from the previous year
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The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) logged nearly 19,000 discrimination complaints based on disability, race, or sex between Oct. 1, 2021, and Sept. 30, 2022, more than doubling the previous year, The New York Times reports.
The education system continues to deal with the effects of schools trying to recover from pandemic-related closures that generated declining test scores and mental health challenges.
The number of complaints has not yet been made public but will be included in the office’s annual report, as reported by The New York Times.
“It reflects the confidence in the Office for Civil Rights as a place to seek redress,” Catherine Lhamon, the assistant secretary for civil rights said in a statement to The New York Times. “At the same time, the scope and volume of harm that we’re asking our babies to navigate is astronomical.”
In September, officials in the Peoria Unified School District agreed to reform after the U.S Department of Education found the district failed to address peer harassment and found that a white student had mimicked “Heil Hitler” salutes, drawing Swastikas on photographs of student faces on notebooks and pulling eyes back to mock Asian students.
“Harassment by employees involved repeated touching of and comments exclusively about a Black student’s hair. The persistent, pervasive, and severe harassment and the district’s ineffective response caused significant and enduring academic, social, and emotional harm to the student who was the subject of the OCR complaint,” reported the U.S. Department of Education in a statement.
However, this is not the only case of discrimination in schools. In December, the U.S. Department of Education announced the resolution of a racial harassment complaint filed against the Ottawa Community School District. It determined the district failed to protect a Black middle school student from racial harassment “so pervasive that it constituted a racially hostile environment.” The student was subjected to racial slurs, being called the N-word and a “slave” and a white student knelt on a Gatorade bottle in the student’s presence and said “it can’t breathe,” mocking George Floyd’s death.
As in previous years, the majority of complaints allege discrimination against students with disabilities.
Also, the number of complaints alleging transgender and gender-identity discrimination increased, reports The New York Times.