The much-criticized Department of Education and its Office of Civil Rights (OCR) surprised conservatives when they announced an investigation into alleged racial discrimination practices.
Fox News reported that the OCR notified parental rights group Parents Defending Education (PDE) in a letter that it opened a civil rights investigation into the New York public middle school Lower Manhattan Community School.
The school allegedly separated students into racial affinity groups, which PDE claimed was an act of racial discrimination and was in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the equal protection clause in the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.
The principal of the middle school, Shanna Douglas, in a November 2021 email, wrote that the school will separate its 7th and 8th graders into racial affinity groups to “explore or share parts of their identity.” These affinity groups allegedly were created to fulfill the middle school’s “race mission statement” to “undo the legacy of racism and oppression in this country that impacts our school community.”
Students were separated into affinity groups to discuss racially-tinged topics on racial identity, with separate groups formed for white, Asian, and multi-ethnic or multi-racial students. Black and Latino (or Hispanic) students were combined into a single group. The school also had another group for students who questioned the usefulness of the exercise.
In effect, the school administrators believed that students in middle school had to be separated into racially-based groups in order to talk about racial identity. Yet it is not an isolated example of left-wing school administrators segregating students based on race in the name of racial identity discussions.
PDE provided a copy of the letter, which letter emphasized that the OCR investigation announcement did not mean that a decision has already been made. Instead, the OCR letter said it will act as a neutral party to “collect and analyze the evidence it needs to make a decision about your complaint.”
PDE President Nicole Neily said of the OCR investigation, “We are pleased that the Office of Civil Rights has opened an investigation into Lower Manhattan Community Schools.” Neily added, “Racial segregation always has, and always will be, an intrinsically evil act that has no place in America’s schools – regardless of the program’s stated intent.”