Government warns schools that bullying can violate civil rights laws
By Tom Cohen, CNN
Failure to respond properly to bullying could risk cut in funding
White House to host a harassment conference next year
Washington (CNN) -- Bullying and harassment in schools often includes violations of federally protected civil rights, the federal government warned Tuesday in new guidelines for educators on how to address the problem.
If school administrators fail to properly deal with harassment based on gender, race or other issues, they risk being cited for contributing to a pattern of civil rights violations that could, in extreme cases, lead to a cut in federal funding, according to top officials who spoke to reporters on a conference call about the new guidelines.
"In extreme cases, schools could be stripped of their federal education monies if they don't comply with all of our civil rights laws," said Russlynn Ali, assistant secretary for civil rights. Also on the call were Arne Duncan, secretary of education, and White House Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes.
The guidelines were part of a letter that began "Dear Colleague" sent Tuesday to thousands of schools, colleges, universities and school districts around the country that included examples of bullying and harassment cases that constituted violations of federal civil rights laws.
Ali said the government proposed $410 million in fiscal year 2011 spending for "successful, safe and healthy students," a 12 percent increase over 2010.
In a statement Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union welcomed the new government guidelines for making clear that most religious, gender and sexual harassment comes under federal civil rights prohibitions, but it called for expanding the federal law to eliminate any doubt.
Thursday, May 23, 2013