Several Schools Under Investigation After Antisemitism, Islamophobia Complaints

The Department of Education has announced an investigation into several K-12 schools and U.S. colleges over reports of antisemitism or Islamophobia.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona released a statement condemning any type of hate.

“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,” said Cardona.

The amount of antisemitism and Islamophobia in schools have drastically increased since the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas. The Education Department reported that five complaints involve alleged antisemitic harassment and two involve anti-Muslim harassment.

The schools being investigated include the Maize Unified School District, a public district in Kansas; Cornell University and Columbia University in New York; Lafayette College in Pennsylvania; the University of Pennsylvania, Wellesley College in Massachusetts; and the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, a private college in New York City.

All schools that receive federal funding must comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, a federal law that bans discrimination based on shared ancestry, ethnic characteristics or national origin. Schools who violate the law could be at risk of losing their funding if they do not comply.

At Cornell University, a 21-year-old student was arrested last month after posting threatening statements against Jewish people. Some Jewish students reported that the school failed to protect them during an October pro-Palestinian demonstration that left Jewish students sheltering in a campus library.

Cornell’s Vice President for University Relations Joel Malina released a statement regarding the incident.

“We remain shocked by and condemn these horrific, antisemitic threats and believe they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” he said.

According to Cardona, the department has received more complaints related to antisemitic and anti-Muslim harassment in the last month than in all of last year.

“We anticipate many more,” he said.

The Education Department plans to post a weekly list online of the schools under investigation for possible racial or ethnic discrimination.