State Watch

Education Department opens civil rights probes into Texas school district

The Department of Education has opened three investigations into a Texas school district after complaints were filed alleging discrimination against students on the basis of race, color, national origin or sex.

The department’s Office of Civil Rights informed officials at the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake, Texas, last week that it was launching three probes into discrimination complaints, according to a statement from the district.

While the district said it is not able to provide further specific information because the complaints pertain to students, pointing to federal policy, it has made headlines in recent years for its handling of allegations of discrimination.

The district came under the spotlight three years ago after a video of white high school students chanting the N-word circulated, NBC News reported, which prompted an outpouring of parents, students and alumni publicly telling their stories of racist and anti-LGBTQ harassment.

The incident also led to the district promising to enact reforms and address the reports of racism, an effort they ultimately failed to complete, according to NBC News.

The district in August 2020 put forth a 34-page Cultural Competence Action Plan calling for widespread diversity training, a new strategy for tracking examples of racist bullying and alterations to the code of conduct that would have held students liable for discrimination.

However, conservative parents pushed back and prevented the changes, contending they would have established “diversity police” to “reverse racism” against white students, the network reported.

Opponents to the initiative formed the Southlake Families PAC, which has backed conservative candidates for the school board and has since won majority control, according to NBC News.

The district has since made some changes, the network noted, including establishing a student and staff services division to ensure that kids from all different background feel comfortable coming forward with allegations of harassment and discrimination.

Karen Fitzgerald, a spokeswoman for the district, told The Hill that the district is “fully cooperating with this process and diligently pulling all documents requested.

“Our focus will always be what is best for our students as we prepare them for their next steps in their educational journey,” Fitzgerald added.

The district made headlines last month when a top administrator advised teachers that if they teach a book focused on the Holocaust they should also include a book that has an “opposing perspective.”

Pressed by a teacher on how one can oppose the Holocaust, Carroll Independent School District’s Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction Gina Peddy said “Believe me, that’s come up.”

Also last month, the district changed its policies on what books teachers are permitted to have in their classrooms after some parents complained about the book “This Book Is Anti-Racist,” saying it violated their family’s “morals and faith.”

— Updated at 5:18 p.m.

Tags civil rights Discrimination

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