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Federal investigation into racist bullying in Park City schools grows to include more campuses, complaints

Park City School District

The Office for Civil Rights investigation into the Park City School District has increased in scope.

The Office for Civil Rights, or OCR, is now investigating complaints at Treasure Mountain Junior High and Park City High school. Those were added to the investigation the OCR launched in February at Ecker Middle School after a formal parent complaint about anti-Semitic bullying and other racist incidents.

The OCR handles complaints about various types of civil rights law violations in public schools. It currently has 20 racial harassment claims under review in Utah. Two of those are in Park City; one filed Feb 16 and another filed March 7 of this year. In addition, the OCR opened a sexual harassment investigation at a Park City school on March 7.

The growing scope of the inquiries likely stems from concerns expressed by families and district employees after the Ecker Hill investigation began. Multiple local sources told KPCW they either filed their own complaints or were interviewed by an OCR attorney after the agency’s review of Ecker Hill began in February.

The OCR does not comment on active investigations and declined to discuss its work in Park City with KPCW.

One district employee said that this week, the OCR administered surveys to all who work at the campuses under investigation; since it was mailed out Tuesday, someone close to the investigation 100 employees have responded to it.

The school district said in a statement that it takes all complaints of discrimination and harassment seriously and addresses each with as much care and compassion as possible. It also said it was notified Thursday night of another complaint; it’s unclear whether that referred to the March 7 complaints or whether an additional new complaint is being investigated.

The district also said it will provide whatever assistance it can to the OCR.

Season Cain is the parent who filed the initial complaint in February about experiences her daughter had at Ecker Hill. Cain said OCR investigators will be in Park City the last week of May to interview school district officials, faculty and staff.

Cain said investigators also want to meet with any families who want to speak to them. She said the OCR wants anyone with questions or concerns to contact them before they come to Park City so they can better prepare for their visit.

Student interviews are encouraged, Cain said, though investigators need parent permission for those. Anyone interested in talking to the OCR can contact OCR attorney Jason Langberg at jason.langberg@ed.gov.

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