The Department of Education has launched investigations into seven schools after receiving complaints about alleged incidents of antisemitism and Islamophobia under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, an administration official tells CNN.
The investigations include five antisemitism cases and two Islamophobia cases, the official said.
They are the first investigations of this kind by the Department of Education since the October 7 Hamas terror attack on Israel.
The schools were informed about the investigations within the last 24 hours. They include one K-12 school, the Maize Unified School District in Kansas, and six colleges: Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, Cornell University in New York, Columbia University in New York, Wellesley College in Massachusetts, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York, and the University of Pennsylvania.
A list of K-12 schools and colleges under investigation for possible discrimination based on shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics will be posted on the Department of Education’s website and will be updated weekly.
At the conclusion of the investigations, the Department of Education will make recommendations to the schools. The schools risk losing federal funding if they don’t comply, the administration official said.
“Hate has no place in our schools, period. When students are targeted because they are—or are perceived to be—Jewish, Muslim, Arab, Sikh, or any other ethnicity or shared ancestry, schools must act to ensure safe and inclusive educational environments where everyone is free to learn,” Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement.
College campuses have seen a rise in tension over the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. A Cornell University student has been federally charged in connection with a series of online posts threatening to kill and harm Jewish students, and the University of Pennsylvania recently alerted the FBI to a series of threatening antisemitic emails sent to the Ivy League school’s staff.
Earlier this month, the Department of Education issued guidance to colleges and K-12 schools, reminding them that they have a legal obligation to address incidents of discrimination – including against those who are Jewish, Israeli, Muslim, Arab or Palestinian – under Title VI.
The department also recently updated its discrimination complaint form, specifying that Title VI’s protection from discrimination based on race, color or national origin extends to students who are or are perceived to be Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or Sikh, or based on other shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics. Anyone can file a discrimination complaint.
Department officials have been holding listening sessions this week with K-12 school leaders to hear how they are keeping students safe in the wake of the Israel-Hamas conflict. A webinar series is expected to launch in December to help school personnel and community-based organizations develop strategies to prevent and respond to hate-based threats, bullying and harassment.