Education Department lists schools under investigation for ‘possible discrimination’ based on shared ancestry

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The Department of Education released a list of higher education and K-12 institutions that are under investigation for alleged shared ancestry violations Thursday as part of the Biden administration’s effort to address reports of rising discrimination in schools.

“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 ethnicity or shared ancestry, schools must act to ensure safe and inclusive educational environments where everyone is free to learn,” Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement.

The department said the investigation, which will update weekly on the Office for Civil Rights website, is to address the “alarming rise in reports of antisemitism, anti-Muslim, anti-Arab, and other forms of discrimination” in schools since the Oct. 7 surprise attacks by Palestinian militant group Hamas on Israel and the weeks-long conflict that has ensued since.

The department said by releasing the list of schools, they are following up on President Biden’s promise to protect students and foster a safe and inclusive learning environment.

“As part of that work, last week the Education Department released a Dear Colleague letter reminding schools of their legal obligations under the Title VI and its implementing regulations to provide all students a school environment free from discrimination based on race, color, or national origin, including shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics,” the statement said.

Title VI’s protections require schools that receive federal financial assistance to address discrimination.

Schools that fail to address issues of discrimination can lose federal funding or be referred to the Department of Justice, the release said.

As of Nov. 16, there are 51 schools being investigated by the Education Department.

One of the schools on the list, Cornell University, had to cancel classes earlier this month over “extraordinary stress” from antisemitic threats on campus.

The department’s announcement comes as tensions rise between student groups and school leaders following the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.

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