Education Department Investigating Antisemitism, Islamophobia At Multiple Schools

“Hate has no place in our schools, period,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement.

The Department of Education launched an investigation on Thursday into seven U.S. schools and universities that have reported incidents of antisemitism and Islamophobia, CNN first reported.

The U.S. has seen a recent uptick in antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents since the Israel-Hamas war broke out on Oct. 7, including at schools and on college campuses across the nation.

On Thursday, the department released a list of schools and universities that will be under investigation, including a K-12 school in Kansas and colleges in New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

The investigations, which involve five antisemitism cases and two Islamophobia cases, were launched under a section of the Civil Rights Act requiring schools and universities to create discrimination-free environments for students.

“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,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement.

This is the first probe of its kind from the department since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7, CNN reported.

Students have reported experiencing threats of violence and discrimination in the wake of the ongoing war. According to the Anti-Defamation League, a total of 312 antisemitic incidents linked to the Israel-Hamas war were reported in the first two weeks since the Oct. 7 attack — more than four times the number of incidents reported at the same time last year.

Last month, a student at Cornell University was arrested for threatening violence against Jewish students, and at Drexel University, a Jewish student’s dorm was set on fire, NPR reported. Students at Columbia University also came forward about antisemitic threats of violence they experienced, CBS News reported.

At American University, the police and FBI investigated a death threat sent to a Palestinian employee last month. Members of a student organization at Harvard University were also doxxed after signing a pro-Palestine letter.

Columbia and Cornell are on the Department of Education’s list of schools to investigate.

“The rise of reports of hate incidents on our college campuses in the wake of the Israel-Hamas conflict is deeply traumatic for students and should be alarming to all Americans,” Cardona said in a statement last week. “Antisemitism, Islamophobia and all other forms of hatred go against everything we stand for as a nation.”

President Joe Biden warned U.S. schools and colleges to take immediate action to address the “alarming rise” in antisemitism and Islamophobia. On Tuesday, the administration announced actions and resources to combat the incidents, including webinars and listening sessions for school and university leaders.

The Department of Education said that it will provide recommendations for schools at the end of its investigation into the schools and colleges. The schools could risk losing their funding from the government if they don’t comply with the recommendations, an official told CNN.

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