The Davis School District, roughly 20 miles from Salt Lake City, Utah, was called to the carpet by the Department of Justice (DOJ) for enabling systematic racism. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the district had been under investigation since 2019.
The DOJ investigation found an appalling number of racist incidents that were ignored by the Davis School District. A report released on Sept. 15 noted that the school district was dismissive of hundreds of complaints about racism and abusive, hostile environments.
The federal agency investigated more than 200 complaints of racist incidents and reviewed documents from 17 schools in the primarily white school district between 2017-2020.
The inquiry found that Black students throughout the Utah Davis School District were repeatedly called the N-word, monkeys and apes and subjected to being bullied with references to slavery, called dirty and threatened with lynching.
“White and other non-Black students routinely called Black students the n-word and other racial epithets, called them monkeys or apes and said that their skin was dirty or looked like feces. Peers taunted Black students by making monkey noises at them, touching and pulling their hair without permission, repeatedly referencing slavery and lynching, and telling Black students ‘go pick cotton’ and ‘you are my slave.'”
Asian students were also bullied and told to “Go back to China,” harassed with racial slurs and told that they were “squinty” and “yellow.” A Latino student was told to go back to working in his taco truck by a teacher, and when he told the principal about racist harassment, nothing happened.
The DOJ investigation also found that Black students were increasingly harassed whenever slavery was a class subject. The report went on to say that the students were also bullied daily or weekly into giving white students permission to call them the N-word or be physically assaulted, often in front of teachers and other staff who didn’t do anything.
“White and other non-Black students demanded that Black students give them an ‘N-Word Pass,’ which non-Black students claimed gave them permission to use the n-word with impunity, including to and around Black students. If Black students resisted these demands, they were sometimes threatened or physically assaulted. These incidents took place on a daily or weekly basis.”
Students also told the investigators that teachers would often discipline them for acts that white students were not chastised for. White teachers also didn’t give Black students the same assistance academically that was given to white students.
In one instance, a bus driver deliberately closed the doors on a Black student and began driving while the student was hanging outside the bus. Another teacher called a student the N-word. One teacher even called one of the DOJ investigators colored.
The Justice Department investigation determined the Davis School District condoned the racist behavior and was deliberate in their indifference. They left Black and Brown students to be discriminated against and harassed by white students, teachers and staff without consequence.
“As a consequence of this dismissive attitude to serious racial harassment, a district-wide racially hostile environment went unabated,” said the report. “The district left students of color vulnerable to continued abuse.”
The DOJ has instructed the Davis School District to hire an equity coordinator by February and hire 30 people to monitor and respond to racist incidents.