US Department of Education investigates 6 more schools for discrimination amid tensions over Israel-Hamas war

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Six more schools are under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education for reports of discrimination on their campuses, according to the agency.

Tulane University in Louisiana, Union College in New York, Cobb County School District in Georgia, University of Cincinnati in Ohio, Santa Monica College in California, and Montana State University in Montana have been added to the newly released list.

The DOE’s Office for Civil Rights released the list as part of the Biden administrations efforts to take action amid the “alarming nationwide rise in reports of antisemitism, anti-Muslim, anti-Arab and other forms of discrimination” on both college and K-12 school campuses since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7, a statement said.

The Department of Education would not release what type of alleged discrimination the schools are being investigated for. However, at least three schools have released statements detailing the incidents.

A district spokesperson from Cobb County told ABC News they are being investigated for a single complaint regarding a reported “anti-Muslim incident.”

“All students in Cobb should feel safe and welcomed, we do not tolerate hate of any kind,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

General view of the University of Cincinnati campus seen before the game against the Austin Peay Governors at Nippert Stadium on Aug. 31, 2017 in Cincinnati.

Michael Hickey/Getty Images

A Tulane University spokesperson said that the incident of discrimination in question “took place at a rally organized by a group that is not recognized by Tulane.”

“The rally was deliberately staged on public property contiguous to our campus but over which we have no control,” the university said. “As a result of assaults against Tulane students and a Tulane police officer at the rally, three individuals unaffiliated with the university were arrested on a variety of charges, including hate crimes.”

The university did not make clear in its statement what kind of discrimination is specifically under investigation, however school officials say the university has increased campus security and has increased its training regarding antisemitism.

“Antisemitism and other forms of hate have no place at Tulane University,” the university said. “We are proud to be home to a large Jewish population where students can feel safe to express their cultural and religious identities as Jews.”

The statement continued, “We will fully comply with the OCR’s investigation and look forward to sharing with them the facts of this incident and our continued effort to support a learning environment that is free of harassment and discrimination based on shared ancestry or national origin.”

Union College also released a public statement, saying that it is being investigated over a claim of discrimination toward Jewish students. The complainant, according to Union College, alleged that the school failed to respond to incidents of harassment in October and November.

“We remain confident that our response to the very small number of reported incidents has been consistent with published policies and procedures, and with how we have responded to reports of alleged bias on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion and other protected statuses,” the statement said.

It continued, “The College has seen no violence, or threats of violence, on campus since the Oct. 7 terror attacks by Hamas on Israel.”

In a statement to ABC News, Santa Monica College said it received a letter from the DOE asking the institution to respond to a complaint concerning the Inter-Club Council (ICC), which governs student organizations at the college.

The college said “the Associated Students’ ICC failed to install Students Supporting Israel at SMC (SSI-SMC) as a club.”

“When students brought their concerns to the attention of College administrators, the College took prompt action on October 20, 2023 and shared publicly the steps it took to immediately redress” the incident, the university stated. “This prompt action demonstrates the college’s commitment to a discrimination-free environment for all students and was acknowledged by SSI-SMC via a post on their official Instagram account that same day. The college stands against all forms of hate, including anti-Semitism.”

The college’s Board of Trustees has since passed a resolution in support of United Against Hate week, which aims to spread awareness concerning instances of hate in the U.S.

The University of Cincinnati and Montana State University did not immediately respond to ABC News’ requests for comment on their respective DOE investigations.

These schools joins at least 9 other schools under investigation concerning Title VI, a law that bans discrimination based on race, color, or national origin in any institution or program that receives federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona told ABC News in a past interview that there will likely be more investigations into schools and universities as incidents continue to pop up across the country.

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