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As the NAACP Director of Education Innovation and Research, I stand in full support of the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights' findings against Beecher Community Unit School District 200U. It is unacceptable for any student, regardless of race or ethnicity, to be subjected to racial harassment. The despicable act of allowing racially hostile acts against a Black student for two consecutive school years highlights the urgent requirement for swift and concrete action.
It is clear that Beecher Community Unit School District failed to respond adequately to the harassment, which is why the OCR's identified concerns are warranted. An investigation into these concerns is necessary to ensure that the District is held accountable for its actions and that steps are taken to prevent such incidents from recurring. We are pleased the District agreed to prompt, appropriate action on racial discrimination and harassment, including policy/procedure training, an annual orientation for students, a school climate survey, and documentation of related complaints.
As educators, it is our duty to create a safe and inclusive learning environment for all students. This means not only addressing incidents of harassment but also taking proactive steps to prevent them from happening in the first place. Beecher Community Unit School District's agreement is a positive step towards achieving this goal.
Furthermore, as a community, we must work together to combat racism and discrimination in all forms. It is not enough to simply respond to incidents of harassment when they occur; we must actively promote inclusive behaviors and attitudes and create a culture of mutual respect and understanding. I encourage all educators, students, and community members to take a proactive approach towards creating a more equitable and inclusive society.