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Education Department, Delaware district settle Jew-hatred complaint

The Red Clay Consolidated District must "ensure that all of its students, including Jewish students, can learn safely and without discriminatory harassment in its schools,” said the assistant secretary for civil rights.

The Austin D. Baltz Elementary School in Wilmington, Del., headquarters of the Red Clay Consolidated School District. Source: Google Street View.
The Austin D. Baltz Elementary School in Wilmington, Del., headquarters of the Red Clay Consolidated School District. Source: Google Street View.

In a Title VI complaint settlement announced by the U.S. Department of Education on Monday, the Red Clay Consolidated School District in Wilmington, Del., committed to make amends to a Jewish student who faced repeated discrimination in 2023, as well as to better address Jew-hatred in the future.

“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,” stated Catherine Lhamon, the department’s 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,” she added.

Unnamed students in the district threw a paper airplane “with ‘Blood of the Jews’ and multiple swastikas as well as bloody imagery scrawled on it” at an unnamed Jewish student and otherwise “targeted the student for harassment because she is Jewish,” per the Education Department. (The airplane also had racist language on it.)

Some 10 minutes after the airplane was thrown, “in the same area of the school, classmates raised their arms in a ‘Heil Hitler’ salute apparently towards the student,” the department stated. “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.”

Students also allegedly told the Jewish student, “I support Kanye West. Hitler was right.” (Kanye West, who goes by “Ye,” is a rapper with a long history of antisemitism.)

The Red Clay Consolidated District “responded to most harassing incidents the student experienced” but its responses were “often haphazard,” “inconsistently enforced,” “inconsistently reflected in district documentation,” lacked “effective or timely steps to mitigate the effects of the harassment,” and seemed to ignore “escalating and repeated incidents,” according to the department.

Under the settlement, the district must repay the student’s family for therapy and counseling costs due to the antisemitic incidents; publicize its anti-harassment statement widely; review its Title VI procedures; address its documentation of harassment reports; train staff and faculty annually about Title VI requirements and procedures; and better educate students about discrimination.

It also must audit all Title VI complaints in the prior year and all complaints it considered “inappropriate behavior” or “abusive language/gestures” since 2021 to see if any are potential Title VI offenses; and “conduct a climate survey with students” and provide the department’s Office for Civil Rights with a “survey results and the district’s proposed corrective actions in response to the survey results for OCR approval.”

Title VI prohibits discriminating based on race, color and national origin, including “a student’s actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics,” per the department.

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