N.Y.C. School to Address Complaints of Harassment

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The New York City school district has agreed to provide diversity and tolerance training for students at a Brooklyn high school where Asian-American students were regularly harassed.

If approved by a federal judge, the consent decree, made public on June 1, would settle a complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The complaint contended that Lafayette High School students threw food, cans, and combination locks at Asian-American students and shouted racial slurs at them. District officials, it said, "deliberately ignored severe and pervasive harassment" at the school.

The Justice Department also maintained that district officials didn’t do enough to help immigrant students participate fully in the school’s academic program.

The agreement would obligate the school to take steps to ensure students do not harass their peers, and it would require that officials respond properly if such incidents occur.

Michael Best, the general counsel for the New York City education department, said in a statement that Lafayette High is working to "heighten awareness" of its racial and ethnic diversity and "minimize harassment" by providing academic and social programs and presentations for students.

The school will clearly communicate its anti-harassment policy to students and their families, Mr. Best said, and "diversity and tolerance training will be provided to all students."

Reports of Trouble

As part of the consent decree, officials agreed to provide appropriate placement and academic counseling for students, and provide foreign-language interpreters where necessary.

New York newspapers have carried reports of violence and other trouble at Lafayette High for several years. The New York Times reported in 2001 that administrators there forced five Chinese immigrant students to leave the school after three years because they had completed their graduation requirements. They were allowed to return several weeks later.

Vol. 23, Issue 39, Page 3

Published in Print: June 9, 2004, as N.Y.C. School to Address Complaints of Harassment
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