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New federal complaint against Carroll ISD claims district creates hostile environment for certain students

Individuals and organizations from Carroll ISD reported incidents where students were subject to slurs, threats, and demeaning treatment, according to the complaint.

SOUTHLAKE, Texas — The video above is from a different story in January about a teacher reaching an agreement with Carroll ISD.

A nonprofit legal organization has filed a complaint against Carroll ISD, claiming that the district has created a hostile environment for students of color and LGBTQ+ students.

In the administrative complaint, filed by the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., it says the district is, "forcing students to endure severe and pervasive race and sex harassment in order to access their education." The group has filed a the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR).

Individuals and organizations within Carroll ISD reported incidents where students were subject to slurs, threats, and demeaning treatment, according to the complaint. 

WFAA reached out to Carroll ISD for a comment on these claims, but the district said it has not received any documents connected to the case. Typically, districts are informed of an investigation once one has been opened. 

The Department of Education's OCR is already investigating three complaints against the district filed last year by students and making similar allegation. 

In response to the investigations, the district said last year, "Our district is fully cooperating with this process and diligently pulling all documents requested."

Just a small fraction of complaints to the DOE eventually become investigations like the three launched by the OCR in November.  

RELATED: Carroll ISD reaches agreement with teacher reprimand over anti-racism book

The complaint filed Tuesday referenced three specific situations that took place from 2018-2020, including two viral videos showing white students from the district chanting racial slurs.

In 2020, students in the Southlake Anti-Racism Coalition provided Carroll ISD with hundreds of student testimonies that claim harassment happened based on race, sex, and national origin.

In the same year, the complaint said a 63-person commission appointed by the Carroll ISD board to study diversity and inclusion in the district discovered stories of race and sex harassment and recommended a plan to address it. That plan was recently rejected by the board

RELATED: Carroll ISD rejects long-debated diversity plan in new lawsuit settlement

According to the complaint, Carroll ISD punished a teacher for allowing students to read about anti-racism topics and instructed staff not to teach that the genocide of Jewish people during the Holocaust was "unequivocally wrong."

Carroll ISD officials have known, according to the complaint, about the hostile environment in the district for years and limited students of color and LGBTQ+ students from fully participating in the school’s education programs and activities. The legal team didn't specify in the complaint how these students are unable to fully participate.

Tuesday, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and co-counsel Arnold & Porter submitted the administrative complaint with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights on behalf of two organizations: Cultural & Racial Equity for Every Dragon and the Southlake Anti-Racism Coalition.

Cultural & Racial Equity for Every Dragon is a group of parents of Black Southlake students. Southlake Anti-Racism Coalition is a group of current and former Carroll ISD students.

Current students and their parents were also involved and represented in the complaint.

RELATED: Back-and-forth battle between Southlake parents continues amidst civil rights investigation

The complaint is seeking relief under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 for the claimed hostile environment in the district's schools.

Individual complainants have been harmed by direct harassment that Carroll ISD officials failed to handle, according to assistant counsel Cara McClellan for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

“For years, CISD officials have known that the hostile environment in the Carroll Independent School District prevents students of color and LGBTQ+ students from fully participating in educational programs and school activities,” McClellan said in a press release. “Despite this knowledge, students who tried to alert District officials were not supported but instead were subject to yet more slurs, threats, and demeaning treatment.”

These issues are a part of a consistent and continuous pattern of egregious indifference, according to Arnold & Porter partner Raqiyyah Pippins.

“Given the documented, research-backed link between fostering a more inclusive school environment and improving students’ academic performance, this dereliction of duty must be rectified," Pippins said in a press release. "All students deserve a safe place to go to school."

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