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Chandler Unified School District under investigation for alleged discrimination

Discrimination investigations mount against schools in the US amid Israel-Hamas war
Chandler Unified School District bus.jpg
Posted at 7:47 AM, Dec 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-20 10:22:28-05

CHANDLER, AZ — Chandler Unified School District has been added to a list of schools under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) for reports of alleged discrimination on their campuses.

The department's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) publishes a list of elementary-secondary and post-secondary institutions that are currently under investigation for discrimination involving shared ancestry, which is updated weekly.

On Monday, the OCR added the Chandler Unified District to the list of educational institutions with an open Title VI Shared Ancestry Investigation.

The OCR said on its site that an institution named on the list means that the office has initiated an investigation of a case concerning that institution, but inclusion on the list does not mean that OCR has made a decision about the case.

They have not released details on what specifically is being investigated.

ABC15 reached out to the Chandler Unified School District Wednesday for more information but has not yet heard back.

Rutgers University in New Jersey, Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, California's Stanford University, the University of California-San Diego, University of Washington-Seattle, the University of California-Los Angeles, and more were also recently added to the list of schools with open investigations.

The DOE's Office for Civil Rights released the list as part of the Biden administration's efforts to take action amid the "alarming nationwide rise in reports of antisemitism, anti-Muslim, anti-Arab and other forms of discrimination" on both college and K-12 school campuses since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7, according to a statement that announced some of the recent investigations.

The Office for Civil Rights informed the schools in question that opening an investigation does not imply any finding of responsibility. The Department of Education did not disclose the type of alleged discrimination that prompted the investigations.

A spokesperson for Rutgers University told ABC News the school received notice of the investigation based on the university's response to two alleged incidents, one in October and one in November.

"The notice provides no further details, but we will certainly fully cooperate," the spokesperson said.

"Rutgers stands against antisemitism and against hate in all its pernicious forms," the statement continued. "The university strives to be a safe and supportive environment for all our students, faculty, and staff. We reject absolutely intolerance based on religion, national origin, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ability, or political views."

The University of California-San Diego said in a statement to ABC News that it "takes all allegations of discrimination seriously" and encourages anyone experiencing harassment or discrimination to reach out to UC San Diego's Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination.

Whitman College is "cooperating fully" with the investigation by "providing the information requested and learning about the reported incidents," the school told ABC News.

The statement further said it has not been made aware of the specifics of the allegations, and that Whitman College is "committed to our ongoing work to combat antisemitism and bias of any kind, and welcome insights the OCR may bring to those efforts."

A Stanford University spokesperson said the college is cooperating with the investigation.

"Stanford is fully committed to a campus environment free of discrimination and harassment, and one in which students of all backgrounds, national origins, and religions are supported and have the opportunity to thrive," the university representative said in a statement to ABC News.

In response to the investigation, the University of Washington told ABC News it "is committed to the safety and security of all students, faculty and staff, and the UW takes all investigations seriously" and that it will fully cooperate with the investigation.

The University of California-Los Angeles did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

These schools join at least 15 others, representing both K-12 and higher education, that are recently under investigation concerning Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, the 1965 law that, in part, "prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance."

The Catalina Foothills Unified School District in Tucson was also placed under investigation in March 2023, according to the list of open investigations.

School administrators, including college presidents, have come under recent scrutiny for how they are handling reported hate incidents on their campuses.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona told ABC News in a past interview that there will likely be more investigations into schools and universities as incidents continue to surface across the country.