How to Respond to Incidents of Discrimination in Schools–Advice to Parents
If students believe that other students, teachers, or school staff members are treating them in a discriminatory way, here are some steps which may remedy the situation.
While not all prejudicial attitudes are overt, you must be able to cite specific words or actions which demonstrate anti-Arab bias (negative references to Arabs or Muslims). Otherwise, there is no proof which will persuade the objective observer. It is wise to keep detailed notes of such words and actions as they occur. Witnesses are also important, or else it often comes down to the word of one person against another.
2. ADC Support: Legal Assistance and Educational Resources
The ADC national office or local chapter may be able to provide support in the form of information or a letter or call of concern. Often the problem is at the level of human relations and is not a legal issue. It is often a “judgement call” as to whether or not an official complaint or a lawsuit is appropriate. Please consult first with the ADC Legal Department. ADC can also provide information on Arab Americans, on discrimination, or the Arab world for parents, teachers or school districts. Many of these materials are available on this website.
It may be appropriate to file a formal complaint with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Education. For information on filing a complaint, check the DOE website at: www.ed.gov/offices/OCR/
Please note that most school districts receive federal funding. They are obligated to take active steps to prevent discrimination. If they show a pattern of discrimination, they stand to lose these funds. This provides strong motivation for school systems to take a strong stand against bias. Since September 11, most schools are much more aware of the problem of anti-Arab discrimination and ready to take preemptive measures.
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