hate crimes, schools, Black students

Utah School District’s 2021 Settlement With DOJ Finally Revealed: Addresses Shocking Racial Discrimination And Harassment

The DOJ found instances where Black students in the Davis School District were referred to as 'apes' and the 'n-word.'

Davis School District gave a summary of its 2021 settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) following evidence of “widespread racial discrimination and harassment” of Black students that was brought to public attention in October 2021.

Fox 13 reported that a summary of the settlement called for the enforcement of anti-harassment and anti-discrimination and proper training for education professionals after the DOJ found instances where Black students in the Davis School District were referred to as racial slurs like “apes” and the “n-word.”

The settlement agreed upon the creation of an office to process reports of harassment and discrimination, according to Fox 13.

“Some of the findings in the letter include pervasive use of the n-word and other racial epithets, Black students being called apes or being told their skin was dirty or looked like feces,” explained Heidi Alder, the legal consultant for the District. “The DOJ also determined that the district had not trained administrators and teachers properly on how to identify and respond to incidents of harassment.”

The settlement also provided that anti-harassment and anti-discrimination notices would be distributed to parents, students, and staff. Assistant Superintendent Fidel Montero said educating the District’s community members was a priority.

“We want to make sure that first and foremost that we’re educating them, and then to the children who experience harassment, any type of harassment, not just racial, we want to make sure we support them,” Montero told Fox 13.

Training, professional development, and other resources were other agreed-upon components in the settlement between the school district and the DOJ. Utah State Rep. Kera Birkeland stressed the importance of government officials handling racially motivated discrimination and harassment properly.

“My concern is when we don’t handle things like this well, it backfires. People, the divide becomes stronger,” Birkeland said. “The issue of ‘you don’t say things like that, they’re totally racially inappropriate’ go[es] out the window because now parents and kids are upset by the process instead of being able to be focused on what really needs to be focused on, which is completely inappropriate remarks.”

Finally, the settlement resulted in an agreement to create a system to report and respond to harassment complaints. Utah State Rep. Brady Brammer said, “What other things are weighed in favor of protecting the school district’s or the school’s actions or justifying them or not addressing the problems versus the parental and student rights?”

He added, “The vertical of the schools and the enforcement of problems within the schools is a major problem in the state right now.”

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