Teaneck NJ schools added to list of schools being investigated for discrimination – USA TODAY

TEANECK, New Jersey — School officials in a northern New Jersey district are facing an investigation from the U.S. Department of Education into possible discrimination based on race, color or national origin.
Teaneck Public Schools was added to the department’s Office of Civil Rights Title VI list of open investigations on Jan. 5, according to the department. Schools on the list, ranging from K-12 schools to universities, are being investigated for discrimination “involving shared ancestry,” the list says.
Teaneck township has been torn over a controversial Nov. 29, 2023, high school student walkout in support of Palestine, statements and handling of the walkout by the district superintendent and the region’s Board of Education’s subsequent handling of public speakers on the subject at meetings.
Connie Le, a director of outreach for Teaneck Public Schools, told USA TODAY that harassment or unfair treatment is not tolerated and that school officials investigate reports.
“All such matters are addressed appropriately,” Le said in a statement. “We do not tolerate any harassment, bullying, or intimidation and thoroughly investigate any reports of this type of behavior.”
The Education Department said it does not comment on pending investigations, so it’s unknown if the civil rights investigation concerns anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim or other civil rights violations at Teaneck schools.
Nationwide, civil rights investigations into possible shared ancestry discrimination have been opened on 44 educational institutions since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks in Israel, according to the Education Department’s list.
The list includes many of the country’s top-ranked universities, including Columbia University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Wellesley College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Most recently, Brown University in Rhode Island was added to the Office of Civil Rights Title VI list on Tuesday.
Students at universities across the country have reported increased levels of antisemitism and missteps over how hate on colleges is handled. The controversies have led to the high-profile resignations of female presidents at Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania.
In a statement to USA TODAY, the Education Department said it’s taking an aggressive stance against the reported rise in antisemitism, as well as anti-Muslin and anti-Arab conduct on campuses nationwide. The department didn’t comment on the pending Teaneck investigation, but pointed to an earlier statement made on Nov. 16.
“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 U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “These investigations underscore how seriously the Biden-Harris Administration, including the U.S. Department of Education, takes our responsibility to protect students from hatred and discrimination.” 
The Title VI investigation list, which was last updated Tuesday, says that a school’s inclusion on the list means an investigation has been initiated and does not mean a conclusion has been reached about whether discrimination took place.

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