Nevada school district settles lawsuit over antisemitic incident

The school district has agreed to pay the young man’s family an undisclosed sum of money and provide ‘educational services.’

By Dion J. Pierre, The Algemeiner

Clark County School District (CCSD) in Las Vegas, Nevada has settled a discrimination lawsuit which alleged that it failed to protect an autistic Jewish student from a heinous antisemitic incident in which someone scratched a swastika into his skin at school, an injury that was not discovered until he returned home.

The young man, who wears a kippah and is nonverbal, was assaulted in March 2023. In addition to being physically harmed, someone tore up a bag worn by his service dog.

Because the school at which the incident took place, Ed W. Clark High School, had not installed surveillance cameras, there remains to this day little information about when and where the incident took place.

“No child should live in fear because of an unsafe educational environment,” Brooke Goldstein — executive director and founder of The Lawfare Project, which, along with Freeman Law Offices and Rogich Law Firm, brought the case — said on Thursday in a statement announcing the settlement.

“This abhorrent and disgusting attack on our client should have never happened, and, moving forward, we hope that the Clark County School District will ensure the safety of all their Jewish students.”

According to The Lawfare Project, CCSD has agreed to pay the young man’s family an undisclosed sum of money and provide “educational services” which an announcement of the settlement did not describe in detail.

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The school district did not respond to The Algemeiner‘s request for comment for this story.

The assault on the student, which occurred during a surge of antisemitic bullying in K-12 schools, prompted widespread outrage when it was first reported.

In the following months, the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism (FCAS), a nonprofit founded by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, responded to it by launching a billboard campaign on the Las Vegas strip.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which had just issued data showing a 49 percent increase in antisemitic incidents in K-12 schools in 2022, denounced the assault in strong terms, saying, “Not only was this student targeted for his identifiable faith, but he was particularly vulnerable due to this disability.”

“Today’s agreement is a step in the right direction towards holding CCSD accountable for its failure to ensure a Jewish autistic student’s safety and provide him with the special education he is entitled to under the law,” The Lawfare Project’s director of litigation, Ziporah Reich, said in Thursday’s statement.

“Both the monetary compensation and educational services we have secured on behalf of the student will bring some measure of justice to the student and his family.”

Antisemitism in K-12 schools has continued to increase every year, according to the ADL’s latest data. In 2023, antisemitic incidents in US public school increased 135 percent, a figure which included a rise in vandalism and assault.

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“School-based harassment in 2023 also included one-off incidents such as when a middle school administrator received a note containing antisemitic death threats or when a high school student threatened their Jewish classmates, stating that if they supported Israel, they would beat them up,” the civil rights group said in its Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents 2023.

“Given the insidious nature of bullying, compounded by the fact that many children may not feel empowered to report their experiences, it is likely that the actual number of school-based antisemitic incidents was significantly higher than the data reported in the audit.”

The problem has led to numerous civil rights complaints filed with the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

Earlier this month, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law announced that the Community School of Davidson, a charter school located in North Carolina, agreed to settle a civil rights complaint alleging that administrators failed to address a series of disturbing antisemitic incidents in which a non-Jewish student was called a “dirty Jew,” told that “the oven is that way,” and battered with other denigrating comments too vulgar for publication.

The abuse, according to the complaint, began after the child wore an Israeli sports jersey.

As part of a settlement with OCR, the school has agreed, among other things, to issue a statement proclaiming a zero tolerance policy for racist abuse, institute anti-discrimination training for teachers and staff, and “develop or revise” its approach to responding to racial bigotry.

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That case isn’t the first the Brandeis Center pursued on behalf of K-12 students.

In February, it filed a complaint alleging that the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) in California has caused severe psychological trauma to Jewish students as young as eight years old and fostered a hostile learning environment.

The problem exploded after Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7, the suit charged.

Since then, BUSD teachers have allegedly used their classrooms to promote antisemitic tropes about Israel, weaponizing disciplines such as art and history to convince unsuspecting minors that Israel is a “settler-colonial” apartheid state committing a genocide of Palestinians.

While this took place, high-level BUSD officials allegedly ignored complaints about discrimination and tacitly approved hateful conduct even as it spread throughout the student body.

“The Jewish community was slower than we should have been to grasp the threat posed by antisemitism in higher education. Now we’re in danger of repeating the same problem in elementary and secondary education,” Brandeis Center chairman and former US assistant education secretary Kenneth Marcus told The Algemeiner on June 4.

“It is horrifying to acknowledge, but the fact is that the situation in many high schools is starting to replicate some of our most worrisome campuses. Elementary schools are not safe either. One ramification is that college campuses may get even worse, as entering freshmen arrive after having already been indoctrinated while in elementary and secondary schools.”