The U.S. Department of Education plans to propose amending regulations that address the enforcement of K-12 and college cases involving harassment or discrimination based on shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics, according to a regulatory announcement.
The proposed rulemaking for Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which comes amid an increase in school-based antisemitic incidents, is expected to be released in December.
In its announcement, the Education Department said the proposed rule would align with the Biden administration’s initiatives on combating antisemitism and advancing racial equity and support for underserved communities. Additionally, the department noted that its Office for Civil Rights has received complaints of harassment and assault directed at Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and other students based on their shared ancestry or ethnicity.
In a Dear Colleague letter sent May 25, Catherine Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights, said OCR finds that a hostile environment exists where there is harassing conduct that is sufficiently severe, pervasive or persistent that interferes or limits an individual’s participation in school activities.
“Schools must take immediate and appropriate action to respond to harassment that creates a hostile environment,” Lhamon said.
The letter also said there has been a rise in reports of antisemitic harassment nationally, including in schools. According to the Anti-Defamation League, 494 antisemitic incidents occurred at non-Jewish K-12 schools in 2022, an increase of 49% from 2021. At college campuses, incidents increased 41%, with 219 incidents in 2022.