‘Dirty’ skin: Utah school district ignored chronic racial harassment of Black and Asian students

Davis School District utah doj racism

Hundreds of Black and Asian American students were regularly harassed at the Davis School District in Farmington, Utah, and officials deliberately ignored their complaints, according to a recent federal civil investigation.

Racial harassment: Black students at the school district were called “slave” and the N-word by other students. They were also told their skin was “dirty” and “looked like feces,” while Asian American students were called racial slurs and told to “go back to China,” and called slurs in the incidents, according to CNN.

  • The incidents took place on a daily or weekly basis, and some students have encountered this type of racial harassment every year since kindergarten, according to the Washington Post.
  • The Justice Department (DOJ) found that the school district was aware of this racial harassment issue after uncovering at least 212 incident reports of Black students being called the N-word across 27 schools between 2015 and 2020.
  • Officials allegedly dismissed the complaints raised by students. In some cases, they “told Black and Asian American students not to be so sensitive or made excuses for harassing students by explaining that they were ‘not trying to be racist,'” the DOJ said.
  • The investigation also revealed that teachers and other staff members did not report the instances of racial harassment to the school district officials despite being aware of what was happening. There were also cases in which teachers were the ones harassing students.
  • Investigators also found out from students that staff members ridiculed them in front of their peers and retaliated when they were reported. They were also accused of endorsing stereotypes against students of color.
  • As for punishment, investigators discovered Black students were disciplined more harshly than white students even when the violations were similar. While Black students faced suspension for their violations, white students only received conferences.
  • Black students were also not allowed to form student groups that explore their culture as one administrator said she did not think “[such a club] was appropriate for school,” the investigation said.

Other details: In a statement to KSTU, Davis School District Spokesperson Chris Williams admitted there is a lot of work to be done to address the widespread racial harassment issue in the school district.

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  • “We are sorry for any student who felt this is not the place to be. We apologize for that,” Williams said.
  • Following the investigation, the school district agreed to implement numerous changes, including “the creation of more training for staff to investigate and respond to racial harassment, creating a new equal opportunity department and developing an electronic system to receive and manage reports of racial harassment and discrimination,” CNN reported.
  • Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general for the agency’s civil rights division, said these changes are necessary to keep Black and Asian -American students safe.

Featured Image via Sam Balye

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