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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Georgia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The DeKalb County School District Reaches Settlement Agreement With Federal Authorities For Harassment Based On Religion And National Origin

ATLANTA - The United States Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice reached a settlement agreement with the DeKalb County, Ga., School District to resolve the Department’s inquiry into the district’s ability to prevent and effectively respond to harassment based on national origin and religion. 

“Every child should be able to attend school without the fear of being taunted and physically assaulted based on his religion or national origin,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates.  “I am encouraged that DeKalb County School District has demonstrated a commitment to ensure that its schools are free of harassment.”

“We commend the DeKalb County School District’s commitment to ensuring that all students – including Sikhs, Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians – can grow and learn in a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination based on religion or national origin,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta for the Civil Rights Division.  “DeKalb County school district has worked hand-in-hand with the department to identify and expand those policies that are successful at protecting kids while modifying those practices that need improvement, and we are confident that the district will continue its work to eliminate harassment in its schools.”         

The agreement ensures that the more than 100,000 students in DeKalb County School District (DeKalb County) will be protected by clear and comprehensive anti-harassment policies and procedures in compliance with federal civil rights laws.  It also ensures that parents and students will have access to essential information, including discipline policies and procedures, in their preferred language. 

In May 2013, DeKalb County, the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the United States Attorney’s Office reached a settlement agreement that resolved specific allegations of religious and national origin harassment of a Sikh student.  At the time of the 2013 agreement, the DOJ, the United States Attorney’s Office, and DeKalb County agreed to continue working collaboratively to resolve the remaining concerns regarding the content and implementation of the school district’s anti-harassment policies and the training of employees and students on such policies.  Since then, DeKalb County has worked with the DOJ and the United States Attorney’s Office to develop a plan for enhancing anti-harassment protections and increasing access to information for all parents and students; today’s agreement is the result of that collaboration. 

The agreement requires, among other things, that the DeKalb County School District develop and implement annual age and position appropriate trainings on religious and national origin harassment for all students, staff who interact with students (including administrators, teachers, counselors, and bus drivers), and district-level administrators who interact with students or who are involved in addressing harassment or bullying in the district.  The training will include topics related to post-9/11 backlash and harassment that perpetuates negative stereotypes impacting the Sikh, Muslim, Arab-American, and South Asian communities.

The enforcement of Title IV is a top priority of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.  Additional information about the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt.   

Assistant United States Attorney Aileen Bell Hughes handled this matter on behalf of the United States Attorney’s Office. 

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the home page for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division is http://www.justice.gov/usao/gan/.

Updated April 8, 2015