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The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) on May 10 issued another Dear Colleague Letter to reinforce education institutions’ response obligations under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 concerning harassment and discrimination in schools based on race, color or national origin, which includes shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics. This encompasses harassment and discrimination against students and members of the school community who are, or are perceived to be, Jewish, Israeli, Muslim, Arab, Sikh, South Asian, Hindu, or Palestinian.

The letter reviews the legal framework, the intersection of Title VI obligations and speech protected by the First Amendment, how OCR analyzes the presence of a hostile environment and discrimination, as well as how it evaluates a school’s response to a hostile environment and discrimination, and provides many detailed examples to make even more clear its expectations for compliance.

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