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Red Clay and Office of Civil Rights come to agreement over antisemitism complaint, student harassed with swastikas

Delaware Public Media

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and Red Clay School District resolve a harassment case involving a Jewish student.

The case filed in June 2023 involves a young Jewish girl whom several other students repeatedly harassed. It alleges that while the district took some disciplinary steps, a reported lack of enforcement created a hostile environment for the Jewish student.

The Office for Civil Rights issued a letterto Superintendent Dorrell Green on Monday with a redacted resolution agreement. The letter details the incidents, which include Heil Hitler salutes, swastikas drawn on her desk, and exposure to perpetrators even after pledges were made to keep her insulated from them.

In the first incident, three students created a paper airplane with writing in red ink that stated “Blood of the Jews,” along with red ink splattered on the paper airplane made to look like drops of blood. Several swastikas were also drawn on the paper airplane and one student threw the plane at the Jewish student, striking her in the leg.

She immediately reported the incident and disciplinary action was taken against the three students involved, including suspension and detention.

The complaint lists additional incidents that continued to occur and alleges the school lagged in creating a safety plan for the harrassed student, and that the school's punishment and attempts to find a permanent solution to the bullying were insufficient.

The American Jewish Committee welcomed the decision and issued a statement Monday.

“No child should be fearful in school. That this young Delaware girl was being harassed so relentlessly and without adequate support from the adults meant to keep her safe is a stain on our education system,” AJC CEO Ted Deutch says in the statement. “This resolution from the Department of Education is an important step forward and contains numerous action steps that all schools can and should take to create and maintain a safe learning environment for Jewish students. Discipline is not enough, and these steps crucially can create a safe, inclusive climate for learning.”

The agreement with OCR and Red Clay requires the district to reimburse the Jewish student’s parents for any counseling services resulting from the incident, widely publicize an anti-harassment statement, and review, develop, and revise policies and procedures to ensure they sufficiently address harassment investigations.

In an emailed statement, Green says the district is auditing its systems and processes to evaluate and enhance existing strategies to create and maintain safe learning environments. The agreement also requires the district to audit all complaints received during the 2023-2024 school year addressing discrimination and to review all incidents at the School coded as “Inappropriate Behavior” and “Abusive Language/Gestures” during the previous two school years to determine if any of the incidents constituted discrimination.

Annual training on Title VI discrimination prohibitions and addressing complaints and reports of discrimination will also be required of all faculty and staff.

Green adds Red Clay is "committed to fostering a positive and inclusive learning environment for all students and stands firmly against hate in all forms, including antisemitism."

Rachel Sawicki was born and raised in Camden, Delaware and attended the Caesar Rodney School District. They graduated from the University of Delaware in 2021 with a double degree in Communications and English and as a leader in the Student Television Network, WVUD and The Review.