As antisemitism and anti-Muslim actions rise in schools, Casey and Fetterman introduce new funding for Office for Civil Rights

07 March 2024- U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced the Showing Up for Students Act, which provides $280 million in additional funding for the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education. The OCR is the office responsible for protecting the civil rights of students in American schools, including from incidents related to antisemitism, anti-Muslim, and anti-Arab discrimination or harassment. Amidst a notable increase in reported incidents of antisemitism, anti-Muslim, and anti-Arab actions in schools across the Nation, the bill would give OCR the capacity to meet the moment and ensure students are free from harassment and discrimination.

“Every student—regardless of their race, gender, disability, or religion—deserves to go to school without facing discrimination,” said Senator Casey. “As incidents of antisemitism, anti-Muslim, and anti-Arab harassment increase in schools rise across the Nation, Congress has an obligation to act. We must provide the Office for Civil Rights the resources it needs to keep our students safe from discrimination and hate.”

The Showing Up for Students Act would provide the Office for Civil Rights with the funds it needs to protect students from harassment and discrimination. This effort follows a disturbing rise in incidents involving antisemitic, anti-Muslim, and anti-Arab harassment, vandalism, and assault on school campuses. According to data from the U.S. Department of Education, between October 1, 2023 and February 15, 2024, OCR received 219 complaints involving Title VI shared ancestry investigations, the category under which complaints relating to antisemitism, anti-Muslim, and anti-Arab discrimination are classified. This is a staggering increase of a 1,360 percent in the number of complaints compared to the same time period the year beforeThe surge in complaints must be met by an increase in resources for OCR.

For years, funding for OCR has not kept up with the trending increase in need for their services, says Casey. Through OCR, students can file a complaint against their school for failure of the administration to prevent or respond to a violation or incident. OCR will then investigate the student’s complaint, make a determination of wrongdoing against the school, and potentially levy consequences against the school administration. Senator Casey’s Showing Up for Students Act will ensure OCR finally has the funding to respond appropriately to these cases, hire additional staff, resolve cases in a timelier manner, and increase capacity to help schools proactively prevent the discrimination and harassment of students.

The Showing Up for Students Act is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), John Fetterman (D-PA), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Laphonza Butler (D-CA), and Tim Kaine (D-VA).