A Kentucky school district has agreed to make “institutional changes” to settle a federal investigation into complaints of widespread harassment of Black and multiracial students, the U.S. Justice Department announced.
The investigation of the Madison County school district, launched in October 2021, uncovered numerous cases of race-based harassment in which Black and multiracial students were subjected to derogatory racial comments by their peers, the Justice Department said in a news release Monday. It found that the district failed to “consistently or reasonably” address the problems, including racial taunts and intimidation, at times reinforced by displays of the Confederate flag, the department said.
When the district did respond, it often failed to follow its own anti-racial harassment policies and ineffectively addressed the “broader hostile environment,” the department said. The situation deprived Black and multiracial students of equal access to educational opportunities, the DOJ said.
“The district will continue working closely with the U.S. Department of Justice to implement policy and procedure changes outlined in the agreement, particularly those that pertain to the tracking and analyzing of data pertaining to racially motivated incidents,” the district said in a statement Tuesday.
It agreed to retain a consultant to revise anti-discrimination policies. It also plans to create three new positions to oversee how racial discrimination complaints are handled, and will update how it tracks and responds to race-based harassment.
Additional measures will include training staff to identify, investigate and respond to racial harassment and discriminatory discipline practices and informing students and parents how to report harassment and discrimination.