The Department of Justice found that a Utah school district was “deliberately indifferent” to instances of racial harassment and subjected students of color to harsher discipline than white students.
Details of the investigation, and the settlement agreement reached by prosecutors and the Davis School District, were released by the DOJ on Thursday.
According to a DOJ statement between 2015 and 2020, the department “found hundreds of documented uses of the N-word” and other derogatory racial comments aimed at Black and Asian-American students by their peers.
Black students told investigators that they were taunted by students making monkey noises, and others who said their skin was “dirty or looked like feces.” White and non-Black students also demanded an “N-word pass” to use the term with impunity, the DOJ reported. If Black students pushed back, they were sometimes physically assaulted, the DOJ said.
“Black students told the Department that incidents happened frequently, at times in front of teachers and staff, and some would not respond or intervene in any way,” the probe found.
Asian-American students said they were also called slurs such as “yellow” and “squinty” or told to “go back to China.”
“The department concluded that for years, Davis’s ineffective response left students vulnerable to continued harassment and that students believed the district condoned the behavior,” the DOJ said in a press release.
Students also said in interviews that administrators and instructors targeted them for discipline and were punished more frequently than white students for the same behavior.
Black students also said their requests to form clubs were denied by the district, even though similar groups were offered to their peers.
Davis School District officials said they’re taking the DOJ’s findings “very seriously.”
“They do not reflect the values of this community and the expectations of the district,” school officials said in a statement shared with Newsweek. “The district pledges to correct these practices.”
As part of the agreement, Davis School District will hire third-party consultants to review harassment policies and create training for staff members on how to identify and respond to discrimination.
The district is also tasked with creating a new “Office of Equal Opportunity” to handle complaints. Officials will also need to create an electronic reporting system to track and manage complaints, as well as the district’s response to the complaints. That system will be made available to the public.
“This important work begins immediately and will continue over the next several years. Within the next 30 days, the district will share additional information with parents, staff, and students outlining the initial steps it will take to implement the needed changes,” the school district said. “The district is wholeheartedly committed to creating and maintaining a safe and welcoming environment for all students free from harassment and discrimination.”
This content was originally published here.