Arizona school district takes steps after student harassment

August 23, 2022 GMT

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — An Arizona school district has taken preventative steps after being accused by federal officials of failing to protect a female student from months of anti-Semitic harassment.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights found that the Kyrene School District didn’t protect the eighth-grader from bullying during the 2018-2019 school year.

Authorities said the unidentified student was harassed at school and on social media by nine students for about five months and she was forced to switch to homeschooling after suffering “significant academic and emotional harm.”

The Department of Education also said the school district — which covers parts of Phoenix, Tempe and Chandler — didn’t take significant action until several months after learning about the harassment.

In a statement Tuesday, Kyrene officials said the district did take actions in the 2018 and 2019 school years to address the harassment and the students involved were held accountable.

ADVERTISEMENT

They said the school board earlier this year approved a comprehensive diversity, equity, and inclusion policy in hopes that “every student in Kyrene will have a sense of belonging, without bias or discrimination.”

“As a person of Jewish faith, I was deeply affected by this investigation,” district Superintendent Laura Toenjes said Tuesday. “I will work very closely with our board to ensure every student of every faith, every race and every background feels safe, valued and respected inside our schools.”