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Combating Post-9/11 Discriminatory Backlash

Community Relations Service

Headquarters Office
600 E. Street, N.W., Suite 6000
Washington D.C. 20530
(202) 305-2935
(202) 305-3009 (fax)

Twenty Plus Things Schools Can Do to Respond to or Prevent Hate Incidents Against Arab-Americans, Muslims, and Sikhs

Take Immediate Concerted Action

  • Undertake and coordinate activities according to a preestablished policy and action plan.
  • Treat all anti-Arab, anti-Muslim, or anti-Sikh incidents seriously. Issue public messages urging tolerance and restraint and pledge prompt, full investigation and action.
  • Report all hate incidents to the local police department.
  • Institute joint initiatives and partnerships with police departments, local officials, parent groups, and community-based organizations. Consider specific projects, such as rallies, forums, dialogues and unity events, which give people constructive ways to express perspectives and concerns.
  • Gather and disseminate accurate and current information on hate incidents and any official actions taken.

Conduct School Assessments

  • Reach out to potentially vulnerable groups in your schools. Identify special concerns by Arab, Muslim, or Sikh staff or students? Conduct a full assessment of tensions in the schools.
  • Hold periodic debriefings on staff assessments of racial and ethnic tensions in and around the schools.
  • Hold open office hours for students to share concerns and perspectives with administrators, counselors, and other staff.

Establish a Written Memorandum of Understanding with Local Police Officials

  • Assure that the school district and each school have in place written agreements of understanding with local law enforcement agencies which specify the responsibilities and roles of school and police officials for notifying and responding to hate incidents.
  • Review or revise plans and protocols with police for responding to demonstrations and special events.

Develop and Publicize Your Policy Against Discrimination and Harassment

  • Assure that there is a clearly defined and publicized policy statement on discrimination and harassment.
  • Make periodic public statements about school policies against discrimination and harassment.

Create and Improve Ways to Detect and Respond to Escalating Racial Tensions

  • Be alert to early warning signs that may indicate an escalation of racial tensions and conflict, including student groupings, graffiti, increase in racial fights, and conflicts over language, dress or hair styles.
  • Maintain and use a checklist of "crisis indicators" tailored to the school's own population.
  • Routinely survey students, faculty, and staff about potential sources of racial tensions.
  • Assume that tensions will be variable and anticipate options the school might take, including special assemblies and announcements, periodic reports on developments, statements of reassurance to students and parents, and orientation on safety precautions and evacuation plans.

Conduct Training

  • Make available cultural awareness learning opportunities for staff, students, and the general community concerning Arab Americans, Muslims, and Sikhs. Use the leadership of these groups to help with the training.
  • Provide hate prevention training to all staff, including teachers, administrators, school security personnel, and support staff.
  • Ensure that all students receive hate prevention training through age-appropriate classroom activities, assemblies, and other school-related activities.
  • Train staff on the culture, language, and customs of racial and ethnic groups. Use "ethnic experts" to help conduct the training.

Use a Free Federal Resource

    Contact the Community Relations Service (CRS), United States Department of Justice, your free "on-call" resource to help you reduce and resolve community racial and ethnic tensions. CRS can provide technical assistance on how to implement many of these recommendations, including how to facilitate dialogues, monitor school tensions, establish school-police agreements, and manage demonstrations and special events. See, or call Deputy Director Stephen Thom at (202) 305-2935.

Updated August 6, 2015