President Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona are making good on promises to protect the civil rights of kids in schools, under attack as they are in states like Texas.
The U.S. Education Department’s civil rights enforcement arm is investigating allegations of discrimination at the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake, Texas, the agency and the school district confirmed Wednesday.
The department’s Office for Civil Rights notified the suburban school district’s officials last week that it had opened three investigations into complaints about discrimination against students based on their race, gender and national origin. The agency declined to provide details on the allegations and doesn’t comment on pending investigations, a spokesman said.
Karen Fitzgerald, a Carroll spokeswoman, confirmed that the district had received three notification letters and is “fully cooperating with this process.”
“Our focus will always be what is best for our students as we prepare them for their next steps in their educational journey,” she said, noting that federal law prohibits her from commenting on cases involving specific students.
The Carroll school system’s handling of discrimination allegations has been the focus of national media attention this year, placing Southlake at the center of a growing political battle over school programs, books and curricula on race, gender and sexuality that some conservatives have misbranded under the umbrella of critical race theory.
The Office for Civil Rights, or OCR, is responsible for enforcing federal laws that protect students from discrimination. Brett Sokolow, president of the Association of Title IX Administrators, a consulting firm that advises school districts on how to resolve civil rights complaints, said when the agency opens an investigation, it’s often the beginning of a process that can take months or years. If the investigation confirms violations of students’ rights, the agency can require a school district to make policy changes and submit to federal monitoring.
“Opening a complaint means that OCR believes that there is a likely violation based on the complaint,” he said. “And then they’re going to do their due diligence to find out more information.”
The federal investigations come three years after leaders in the Carroll school system, 30 miles northwest of Dallas, promised and ultimately failed to make sweeping changes to address racism in the district following the release of a video of white high school students chanting the N-word. After the video went viral, dozens of parents, students and recent graduates came forward with stories of racist and anti-LGBTQ harassment at Carroll, a majority-white district that has grown more diverse in recent years.
The district’s proposal to address the issues, the 34-page Cultural Competence Action Plan, would have required diversity training for all students and teachers, a new process to report and track incidents of racist bullying, and changes to the code of conduct to hold students accountable for acts of discrimination, among other changes. But after the district unveiled the plan in August 2020, conservative parents packed school board meetings, formed a political action committee and funded a civil lawsuit to block the changes.
They argued that the plan would have created “diversity police” and amounted to “reverse racism” against white children. Opponents took particular issue with a district proposal to track incidents of microaggressions — subtle, indirect and sometimes unintentional incidents of discrimination.
Now, we'll be treated to months of "Biden's corrupt Justice Department targeting concerned parents!" but that was going to happen for the rest of this administration anyway, there's no point in giving in to these clowns.
The right move here by Education Department.