No details have been released about the specific incidents on campus that the department is investigating. But some investigations were prompted by complaints from Jewish advocacy groups, including the Brandeis Center.
All schools that receive federal funds must comply with Title VI, a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on common ancestry, ethnic characteristics or national origin. Schools that violate the law could risk losing their federal funding if they don’t comply. Along with Thursday night’s announcement, agency officials also cautioned that just because a school is under investigation does not mean it broke the law.
Still, Cardona was tough Friday about schools’ responsibilities to protect students from discrimination. He also said he expects more investigations into incidents of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in schools.
“It’s our responsibility to protect them and we’re doing everything we can to enforce that,” Cardona said. “And if we find that there are places that are not doing this, we will open an investigation. We will be supportive, but we will open an investigation to make sure we are doing our job as educators.
The secretary urged colleges to be “open and honest” with students and their families about what is happening on their campuses, and they should allow students to speak freely on campus. He also said the department was willing to work with schools on compliance and had a number of resources available.
“When students can’t feel safe going from their dorm to their classroom because they’re afraid of being hurt, that’s unacceptable,” Cardona said. “We must protect students at all costs. »
The Education Department said Thursday it will continue to update its list of investigations weekly on its Office for Civil Rights website.