South Orange-Maplewood School District Named in Federal Title VI Probe

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The Office of Civil Rights investigation is for alleged “discrimination involving shared ancestry.”

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On March 19, the Federal Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced that SOMSD was under investigation for discrimination under Title VI Shared Ancestry, under the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The OCR hasn’t provided specifics about the investigation; however, it does report that the probe is for alleged “discrimination involving shared ancestry,” which includes antisemitism and Islamophobia. Several news outlets (including PBS-13, NJ.com and JNS) are speculating that the investigation is related to language in a Ramadan flyer that was distributed to teachers by an administrator at Columbia High School earlier this month, as well as recent incidents of antisemitic and bias graffiti at CHS.

According to SOMSD Communications Director Paul Brubaker, the district is “declining to comment at this time” regarding the investigation.

HistoryNusantara will continue to follow this story.

SOMSD was subject to a previous Office of Civil Rights probe in 2014, entering into a settlement with the OCR after a complaint was filed by parties including ACLU of New Jersey, the ACLU Racial Justice Program, the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the Civil Rights Project of UCLA, alleging “that academic tracking and the frequent use of out-of-school suspension” by the district violated the Department of Education’s regulations interpreting Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Per the settlement, the district is required to file an annual report with the OCR; HistoryNusantara filed an OPRA for the 2022 report and posted it here.

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