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Press Release

Justice Department Secures Settlement to Remedy Race and Sex-Based Harassment of Students in Vermont School District

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Vermont

WASHINGTON – The U.S Attorney’s Office for the District of Vermont and Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice today announced a settlement agreement with the Twin Valley School District in Vermont to resolve its investigation into complaints of student-on-student harassment based on race and sex. 

The department’s investigation revealed that the school district knew of, and did not respond sufficiently to, individualized harassment and a broader hostile educational environment in Twin Valley Middle-High School. The department’s review, which focused on the school district’s responses to allegations of harassment from the 2019-20 school year to the present identified instances of targeted peer harassment and pervasive documented use of derogatory epithets and comments based on students’ race, sex, sexual orientation and sex stereotypes. Because the school district did not sufficiently address these instances, students were deprived of equal access to the educational opportunities the district provided.

“Pervasive racial and sex-based harassment in public schools violates the Constitution’s most basic promise of equal protection,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This agreement will help ensure that Black and LGBTQ students can thrive in a safe and supportive educational environment going forward. No student deserves to be subject to unlawful and harmful bullying or harassment, especially once they enter the schoolhouse door.” 
“Schools should feel safe for all children, but when harassment does happen, schools have an obligation to respond appropriately so that every child has equal access to their education,” said U.S. Attorney Nikolas P. Kerest for the District of Vermont. “Here, the school district has agreed to take significant steps to improve its process for responding to harassment and its overall educational environment.”

Under the settlement agreement, the school district agreed to implement the following reforms:

  • Modify district policies and procedures to prevent and address peer harassment; 
  • Undertake periodic assessments of school climate at Twin Valley Middle-High School and implement    responsive programming to remedy hostile educational environments; and
  • Improve training for district employees who receive, investigate or adjudicate complaints of harassment.

The school district cooperated throughout the investigation, which was conducted under Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

This matter was handled jointly by Assistant United States Attorney Jules Torti of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Vermont and the Educational Opportunities Section of the Department’s Civil Rights Division. Protecting the constitutional rights of public-school students is a top priority of the Civil Rights Division. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available on its website at, and additional information about the Educational Opportunities Section’s work is available at Additional information about the District of Vermont’s Civil Rights Program is available at

To report a possible civil rights violation, please visit   

View the agreement here.


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Updated March 16, 2023

Civil Rights