On June 5, 2023, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced it had entered into a resolution agreement after investigating whether Beecher Community School District 200U (the District) failed to respond appropriately to complaints of racial harassment. Prior to making a finding, OCR entered into a resolution with the District.
As part of its letter to the District, OCR identified a few concerns regarding the District’s response to complaints about racial harassment. Specifically, OCR identified that the District did not appear to consider “the totality of the circumstances and the cumulative effects” of incidents of harassment on a student, such as individuals using racial slurs, making degrading racialized comments, and shaking a bus to attempt to cause Black students to fall. Additionally, OCR identified that the District did not follow its grievance procedure, conduct a complete investigation, or take action to prevent further harassment when responding to complaints.
OCR also identified concerns about the District’s recordkeeping system and staff training. The District did not appear to have a system of tracking complaints. Personnel responding to racial harassment complaints, including those conducting investigations, were not adequately trained.
As part of the resolution agreement, the District must:
- Take prompt and appropriate actions to investigate allegations of students who were harassed on the basis of race during the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school year. Additionally, they must remedy the effects of racial harassment on the students, such as offering compensatory education, counseling, and reimbursement for documented private educational expenses for the student’s alternative education, counseling and/or psychological support;
- Provide all school administrators, faculty, and staff with annual training on the District’s policies and procedures that address racial discrimination and harassment;
- Provide training to all school employees who receive, or are directly involved in processing, investigating and/or resolving complaints or other reports of discrimination or harassment on the basis of race;
- Provide a mandatory, annual, age-appropriate orientation session for all school students on the District’s policies and procedures prohibiting racial discrimination and harassment;
- Maintain documents relating to specific complaints or other reports of racial harassment of students to ensure that its files contain all information necessary to process complaints under Title VI; and
- Develop a school climate survey to administer to students at the school to ensure the school is free of racial harassment.
Grand River Solutions subject matter experts can review your policies and practices, train your school employees who are tasked with responding to and investigating complaints, and conduct a climate survey, including analyzing the results and providing meaningful recommendations.