Department Of Education Issues “Dear Colleague” Letter On Shared Ancestry

CATEGORY: Public Education Matters
CLIENT TYPE: Public Education
DATE: Dec 28, 2023

On November 7, 2023, the Department of Education released a “Dear Colleague” Letter on Shared Ancestry.  The letter reminds schools and colleges of their Title VI obligations in light of “a nationwide rise in reports of hate crimes and harassment, including an alarming rise in disturbing antisemitic incidents and threats to Jewish, Israeli, Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian students on college campuses and in P-12 schools.”

The letter emphasizes that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination against students and others on campus, including those who are or are perceived to be Jewish, Israeli, Muslim, Arab, or Palestinian.  This includes discrimination based on ancestry or ethnic characteristics, or discrimination based on citizenship or residency in a country with a dominant religion or distinctive religious identity.

The letter states that harassing conduct can be verbal or physical and need not be directed at a particular individual.  Schools and colleges must take immediate and effective action to respond to harassment that creates a hostile environment.

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