School District Reaches Bullying Settlement with DOJ
Bullying in schools has become an increasing problem across the United States, but for one school, Federal Way public schools in Washington, instances of school bullying were out of control. Moreover, between 2013 and 2015, complaints were made that Federal Way was not properly investigating reports of bullying from students, including reported physical and verbal harassment by other students because of religion or nationality. As a result of these complaints, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) initiated an investigation because, as Eric S. Dreiband, assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, said “Discrimination in schools based on religion or national origin violates federal law and is antithetical to our nation’s values.” The DOJ’s intervention resulted in a settlement with Federal Way, whereby the district has agreed to track bullying incidents more closely to prevent bullying from happening and to file reports with the DOJ. The school has also agreed to update its anti-harassment policies, as well as implement training for its staff members on how to communicate with parents and guardians who do not speak English.