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Dallas ISD student files civil rights complaint alleging antisemitic bullying

 Dallas ISD - Linus D. Wright Administration Building
Jacob Wells
Dallas ISD - Linus D. Wright Administration Building

A Dallas ISD high school student has filed a federal Title VI civil rights complaint claiming the school district enables harassment and discrimination against Jewish students.

The 17-page complaint was submitted to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) Tuesday by the student and StandWithUs, a nonprofit that supports Israel and works to combat antisemitism. The complaint details a log of antisemitic incidents dating back to 2021.

According to the complaint, the Hillcrest High School student was called names like “dirty Jew,” heard other teens praise Hitler and reported swastika drawings to administration. The complaint alleges the harassment took place “in plain sight” at school, often with teachers present.

StandWithUs helped the student — who was their intern last summer — and his family file the complaint. He reportedly confided in the organization about the daily antisemitism he was experiencing for years at the high school that he claimed administration knew about but did nothing to address.

“At that point, we put together a letter that we sent to the school asking for training on antisemitism,” said StandWithUs legal director Yael Lerman. “The school never responded to that letter.”

Lerman said staff at StandWithUs kept in contact with the family and agreed to file a Level 1 grievance with Dallas ISD.

“What we said was, please, all we want is for you to bring in training about antisemitism to the staff and students,” Lerman said. "Again, the school did not do that.”

Dallas ISD has not responded to a request for comment. Following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on civilians in southern Israel, Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said in a statement that "Antisemitism, anti-Muslim, anti-Asian, racism, or discrimination of any kind has no places in Dallas ISD."

The complaint requests that the OCR compel DISD to take several steps, including issue a statement denouncing antisemitism, provide annual training about antisemitism, and create a Jewish student task force that would provide input to the district on how to improve Jewish life in DISD.

“We hope that the student will finally feel supported and heard and that this will provide the protection to Jewish students within the district, but at the school in particular,” Lerman said.

Copyright 2024 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

Zara Amaechi