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Dallas Public School District Accused of Allowing a Virulently Antisemitic Climate

By Zach Kessel | National Review | April 10, 2024


Photo courtesy of Shutterstock


Jewish nonprofit StandWithUs filed a federal Title VI civil rights complaint with the Department of Education Tuesday, alleging that the Dallas Independent School District has allowed a hostile environment for Jews to flourish at one of its high schools.


As the complaint describes, “classmates have called Co-Complainant a ‘kike!’ a ‘lying kike,’ a ‘fucking kike,’ a ‘snitching Jew,’ and ‘a snitching filthy kike’ while in the classroom.” One student told the student to “go bathe in Auschwitz where you belong” and “wish you died with your great-aunt.”


Classmates have taunted the Jewish student with insults like “fucking kike, useless piece of shit, all of you guys should be dead” and “bye kike, hope the Nazis grab you tonight,” while other students have drawn swastikas on his papers. One incident detailed in the complaint involved a teacher praising a student making antisemitic comments in class for his “enthusiasm.” The principal told the student not to “let things like that bother [him]” without any further action.


Since October 7, the complaint reads, the harassment began including references to Israel and Palestinians, with classmates telling the Jewish student that “the kikes are just getting what they deserve.”


As Yael Lerman, director of StandWithUs’s legal department, told National Review, the Jewish student’s repeated pleas to the Hillcrest High School administration have been ignored.


“The student is one of our high-school interns and is a remarkable advocate for the Jewish people,” Lerman said. “He’s been the victim of antisemitism for years. He’s reported incidents to the administration and they refuse to address it.”


Ultimately, Lerman said, the student asked StandWithUs for help.


“The first thing we did was send a letter to the school outlining all the ways the student has experienced antisemitism. All the student and parent asked for at the time as a remedy was antisemitism education,” Lerman told NR. “They just want the administration, the teachers, and other students to be educated on what antisemitism is and what to do about it.”


When the administration essentially ignored the substance of the letter, StandWithUs filed what is known as a level-one grievance with the school, which Lerman described as the first stage in what the organization does. After filing the grievance, Lerman had a meeting with administrators, the student, and his parent.


“At that meeting, the administrators we spoke to appeared willing to help,” she told NR. “They said they would be having an upcoming professional development session in January and would be happy to address antisemitism as the focus of that meeting,” which was what the student and parent wanted in the first place. At that session, though, no discussion of antisemitism occurred.


During another meeting between administrators, StandWithUs, the student, and his parent, Lerman told NR, “they said to us outright, ‘we felt that we wanted to address all forms of hatred. We didn’t want to solely focus on antisemitism, so we didn’t.'”


It was at that moment that StandWithUs knew it had to escalate matters, Lerman said, because “they weren’t hearing us and were not interested in addressing antisemitism at the school. We had to file a Title VI.”


Title VI of the Civil Rights Act stipulates that entities receiving federal funding must not allow discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin. In 2019, former president Donald Trump issued an executive order clarifying that the term “national origin” applies to Jewish people, writing that “individuals who face discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin do not lose protection under Title VI for also being a member of a group that shares common religious practices.”


While StandWithUs has been particularly busy on the Title VI front as it pertains to colleges and universities, this complaint against the Dallas Independent School District is the first such filing the group has submitted regarding K–12 education.


“It’s more unusual to bring a Title VI case against a high-school district than a university, because, usually, we’re able to resolve the issue much earlier with the principal or the superintendent,” Lerman explained. “In this case, we weren’t able to. We spent months trying to get their attention, but they were not interested in addressing antisemitism. In the end, we had no choice but to file.”


National Review contacted the Dallas Independent School District for comment on the allegations leveled in the complaint, but did not receive a response by press time.


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