NC school settles antisemitism case of bullied non-Jewish student

U.S. Dept. of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has ordered remedies the Community School of Davidson must follow

Kenneth Marcus, pictured in 2017, of the Brandeis Center filed a federal complaint on behalf of an eighth-grader who was bullied by classmates who assumed he was Jewish. (Susan Walsh / AP Photo)

RALEIGH — The Community School of Davidson, a public charter school, has agreed to settle a U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights investigation into a case of antisemitic bullying that was allowed to fester unchecked for two full academic years.

The federal complaint was filed by the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law on behalf of an eighth-grade boy who is not Jewish. In a press release, the Brandeis Center characterized the situation as “severe, persistent, and pervasive anti-Semitic bullying.”

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“This case shows the various ways non-Jews can be victimized by anti-Semitism,” said Kenneth Marcus of the Brandeis Center in a press release. “Discrimination against those perceived as Jewish is illegal bigotry that can spread damagingly through a community.”

The complaint says that after wearing an Israeli Olympic team jersey of his favorite baseball player Ian Kinsler, the male student faced relentless harassment and physical abuse from classmates who perceived him as being Jewish.

The press release also cited remarks by the boy’s mother during a May congressional briefing about rising antisemitism in K-12 schools: “It would be hard to overstate the impact this has had on my child,” she said. “As a parent this has been completely devastating.”

According to the settlement agreement, a group of nine students bullied the boy daily, subjecting him to antisemitic slurs and referencing concentration camps.

The abuse allegedly even occurred during a class about the Holocaust. The boy was also threatened and physically assaulted.

Despite being fully aware of the situation, the complaint asserted that school officials failed to take any meaningful action to stop the bullying and assaults targeting the student based on his perceived Jewish ancestry and ethnicity in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act which prohibits discrimination in federally funded education programs.

As part of the settlement, the Department of Education criticized the school for its failure to stop the bullying and confirmed the antisemitic harassment the boy suffered created a hostile environment that was not properly addressed by school officials.

The school must now take corrective steps including policy revisions, staff training, student programs, compliance audits and climate assessments. The Department of Education will monitor the North Carolina school’s compliance with federal antidiscrimination law going forward.

Per the press release, the Brandeis Center has filed numerous other complaints over unaddressed antisemitism in K-12 schools and on college campuses across the country.

About A.P. Dillon 1341 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_