Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona speaks with students during a visit to Towson University to discuss anti-Semitism on college campuses on November 2, 2023.
The Department of Education has launched investigations at seven schools, including Cornell University, Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania. after receiving complaints about alleged incidents of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, an administration official tells CNN.
The investigations include five cases of anti-Semitism and two cases of Islamophobia, the official said.
These are the first investigations of this kind for him Department of Education since the Hamas terror of October 7 attack on Israel.
Schools were informed about the investigations in the last 24 hours. They include a K-12 school, the Maize Unified School District in Kansas, and six universities: Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, Cornell University in New York, Columbia University in New York, Wellesley College in Massachusetts, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science. and Art in New York and the University of Pennsylvania.
A list of K-12 schools and colleges under investigation for possible discrimination based on shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics will be posted on the Department of Education’s website and updated weekly.
Upon conclusion of the investigations, the Department of Education will make recommendations to schools. Schools risk losing federal funding if they don’t comply, the administration official said.
The investigations were launched under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which says colleges and K-12 schools have a responsibility to provide all students with an environment free of discrimination. Anyone can file a Title VI complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
“Hate has no place in our schools, period. “When students are targeted because they are (or are perceived to be) Jewish, Muslim, Arab, Sikh, or any other shared ethnicity or ancestry, schools must act to ensure safe and inclusive educational environments where everyone is free to learn,” he said. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement.
College campuses have seen increased tension over the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. A Cornell University student has been federally charged in connection with a series of online posts threatening to kill and harm Jewish students, and the University of Pennsylvania recently alerted the FBI about a series of threatening anti-Semitic emails sent to staff from the Ivy League school.
Earlier this month, the Department of Education issued guidance to colleges and K-12 schools, reminding them that they have a legal obligation to address incidents of discrimination, including against those who are Jewish, Israeli, Muslim, Arab or Palestinian.
The department also recently updated its discrimination complaint form, specifying that Title VI protection against discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin extends to students who are or are perceived to be Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or Sikh, or by other shared ancestors or ancestry. ethnic characteristics. Anyone can file a discrimination complaint.
Department officials have been holding listening sessions this week with K-12 school leaders to hear how they are keeping students safe in the wake of the conflict between Israel and Hamas. A webinar series is expected to launch in December to help school staff and community organizations develop strategies to prevent and respond to hate-based threats, bullying and harassment.