The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has filed a civil rights complaint against Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) in Virginia, alleging longstanding antisemitism problems there that FCPS officials have failed to address, in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. The complaint, against one of the largest school districts in the U.S., was filed with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights on January 25, 2022.
The ZOA’s complaint documents year of antisemitism in the schools, which FCPS officials knew about but did not respond to effectively, including but not limited to the following:
- Jewish students have repeatedly been subjected to ethnic slurs, “Heil Hitler” salutes and Jewish “jokes” from their peers. One Jewish student received hundreds of antisemitic texts from two other students, which referred to the Jewish student as a “f**king Jew ass whore,” “f**king Jew,” “dirty Jew,” “Jew F**ktard,” and “dollar dealer”;
- Swastikas have repeatedly defaced school property, without condemnation by FCPS officials or even any notice to the FCPS community that these incidents of antisemitic vandalism had occurred and would not be tolerated;
- For years, the religious observance of Jewish students and staff has not been accommodated, with back-to-school nights, quizzes and other significant events being scheduled on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and teachers singling out Jewish students in class to question their religious observance.
- Last May, in violation of FCPS’s own policies, a school board member used her official position to viciously attack Israel with falsehoods and misleading statements during Israel’s May 2021 defensive operations against the U.S.-designated terrorist group Hamas in Gaza. The school board member incited antisemitic hatred and divisiveness in the FCPS community, but district officials did not condemn her misconduct or impose any consequences for violating FCPS policies.
The ZOA filed the complaint after efforts to resolve the problems informally with FCPS were unsuccessful.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein and Director of ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice, Susan B. Tuchman, Esq., stated, “The ZOA’s complaint describes in horrifying detail what Jewish students and staff have been enduring for many years in a school district that touts its diversity and claims to value a safe and respectful learning environment. We are so grateful to Jewish members of the FCPS community who came forward and shared with us the difficult and painful experiences they’ve endured, made even more painful by FCPS’s indifference and inaction.
“We are hopeful that the Office for Civil Rights will promptly and thoroughly investigate the ZOA’s complaint, hold FCPS accountable, and ensure that the district finally provides Jewish students with the safe, welcoming and respectful environment that they’re entitled to under the law and that every student deserves.”