top of page

Dept. of Education complaint filed against Dallas ISD alleges years of antisemitism, bullying

By: Marvin Hurt | CBS News Texas | May 9, 2024

DALLAS — A Dallas teenager says he has been repeatedly targeted at his high school, amid nationwide discussions about antisemitism in schools and universities.

StandWithUs, an international, nonpartisan nonprofit organization supporting Israel and battling antisemitism, filed a 17-page complaint with the Civil Rights Office of the United States Department of Education last month about the victim's experiences at Hillcrest High School in Dallas ISD.

"Some people have asked me why I don't switch schools, but doing so would cause the problem to continue, allowing the school and all its administrators to avoid making changes and being held accountable," the alleged victim said.

So far, the filing has led to sensitivity training for staff and students.

The DOE's Office of Civil Rights told CBS News Texas complaints are not confirmed. Instead, the office provides a website where those who are curious can check to see if complaints have evolved into investigations. Last updated May 8, Hillcrest is not on the list.

In a letter, Dallas ISD Superintendent Dr. Stephanie Elizalde said the district was cooperating with the investigation.

"Hate speech, derogatory language, and offensive behavior is not tolerated at Dallas ISD," she said. "Our schools are safe havens where we welcome inclusivity and celebrate all cultures, ethnicities, and religions."

But those words may have come too late for a boy and mother who said they told school administrators about what the Hillcrest student said he's been enduring since 2021.

"Reported incidents include: physical abuse; verbal taunting; ridiculing with reference to Hitler, Auschwitz gas chambers, and the Holocaust; and highly offensive name-calling," the filing said.

"DISD has essentially sanctioned such harassment and enabled it to fester unhindered," the group wrote.

Schoolmates of the victim, per the complaint, told him, "If I were you, I'd kill myself."

The complaint also says a classmate slapped the victim. The victim's experiences are filled with the insensitivities of slurs and combating Hitler as an elevated figure over Jews.

"Hitler is like Star Wars; he's a god, and he kills people," a student said in the filing.

The victim said going to the school's restroom was the same — A swastika, according to the report, was found in the stalls right next to writing saying "Burn the Jews."

StandWithUs and the family filed a grievance for the DISD and the school to take more substantial steps to address antisemitism. 

In the grievance, "One particularly alarming aspect…is that one or more of the bullies is often another Jewish student."

StandWithUs Co-Founder and CEO Roz Rothstein told CBS News Texas in a statement: "The issues confronting Jewish students on campus right now, which are being widely publicized, are unfortunately not unique to that setting." 

According to Rothstein, the goal is "to seek a remedy for a hostile antisemitic environment at Hillcrest High School in the Dallas Independent School District."

DISD organized sensitivity training with community partners, such as the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League and the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum.

"The Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum is committed to providing educational resources through lesson plans, field trips, school visits, professional development, and more, to our longstanding partner Dallas ISD and many local school districts," said Caitlin Burke, the museum's communications manager.

Burke said one such program is the Upstander Partnership, in which Dallas ISD Region I participates. 

She also said the museum, in conjunction with the ADL, is providing Hillcrest High School faculty and staff training on the history and impact of antisemitism. 

Burke also said Hillcrest High School is in Region III of Dallas ISD, which is not currently part of the Upstander Partnership. She said they are working with Dallas ISD on the curriculum from the program for Hillcrest's future use.


bottom of page