The Department of Justice has sent a letter to all 50 state departments of education asking for help in preventing discrimination against ethnic and religious groups that have been targeted since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
In his Aug. 20 letter, R. Alexander Acosta, the assistant attorney general in charge of the civil rights division, said that since the attacks, his office has investigated 600 incidents of violence directed against Arab, Muslim, South Asian, or Sikh Americans. He cited several incidents that reportedly occurred in schools. An Oklahoma school district suspended a Muslim girl for wearing a hijab, or head scarf, he said. A California teacher allegedly accused a Sikh student who wore a beard of being a member of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The letter condemns such actions and calls on educators to provide leadership and assistance in preventing them.