OCR Takes Action Against Racial Harassment following Snapchat incident at Illinois School District


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BEECHER, Ill – U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has taken action to address racial harassment incidents on Snapchat at Beecher Community Unit School District 200U, located near Chicago.

To uphold Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, OCR has reached a resolution focusing on preventing and addressing racial harassment among students.

It comes after the OCR’s investigation centered on the District’s response to racial harassment during the 2021-22 school year. Instances included sharing Confederate flag images in classroom presentations, a racially offensive Snapchat message sent during school hours, and a white student using a racial slur in an online classroom activity.

OCR uncovered further incidents of racial harassment in the 2022-23 school year, including repeated use of racial slurs and instances where white students physically intimidated Black students.

The district, primarily consisting of white students, had an enrollment of 1015 students in the 2021-2022 school year. A poll from the time found demographics at the time included: 20% Hispanic/Latino, 3% Black, 73% white, 3% two or more races, and less than 1% other.

OCR’s investigation raised concerns about the district’s handling of racially harassing behavior. It found inadequate investigations, failure to consider the cumulative impact of harassment, and insufficient measures to prevent recurrence or address its harmful effects on students.

The resolution agreement includes prompt investigations into allegations of racial harassment, comprehensive training on policies related to racial discrimination and harassment for administrators and staff, mandatory orientation sessions for students on anti-discrimination policies, and the development of a school climate survey to ensure a harassment-free environment.

Catherine E. Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, commended Beecher Community Unit School District 200U for its commitment to addressing and preventing racial harassment incidents. 

“The important steps Beecher Community Unit School District 200U has agreed to take to address and prevent racial harassment are designed to ensure that their full school community will learn in the nondiscriminatory environment federal law promises to them, Lhamon said in a press release Monday.

The resolution outlines steps, such as offering compensatory education and counseling to affected students and maintaining comprehensive documentation of racial harassment complaints for proper handling and resolution.

The investigation came about after a complaint filed with OCR, prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, or national origin in federally assisted educational programs.


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