Responding to Racist Hate in Our Schools

Students of color are being targeted with symbols of racist hatred in Massachusetts’ public universities and high schools.  At Framingham State University, racial slurs were written on a Black student’s dorm room door twice over the weekend. And at Rockland High School, a swastika was carved into a desk and racial slurs appeared throughout the building a day before.

Our state and federal laws protect students against identity-based harassment and hostile environments that interfere with their equal right to an education. Schools have a legal duty to respond to such harassment.  42 U.S.C. § 2000(c)-(d); 76 M.G.L. § 5.  Indeed, this was the case last year at Boston Latin School, where the U.S. Department of Justice found a federal civil rights violation when the school failed to properly respond to such harassment, per our complaint.

In a pair of letters, the Lawyers’ Committee calls on both schools to fully investigate and condemn these acts.   We are urging the schools to support the targeted students and to listen to them in determining what must be done to repair and improve their school’s climate.  Similarly, we urge any parents and students affected by identity-based harassment in their schools to contact us as well as state and federal authorities.

Letter to Framingham State re racial slurs
Letter to Rockland High re swastika